Objectives: The establishment of professional credentials within health sciences librarianship has become an important initiative within the occupation; however, the examination of attitudinal attributes associated with professionalism in individual librarians has been left primarily unacknowledged. This study will determine current attitudes toward professionalism in health sciences librarians and examine relationships among degrees of professionalism.
Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was carried out among participants registered on several library professional listservs. The survey collected socio-demographic information as well as information about work settings and work responsibilities. The Hall Professionalism Inventory, a 25-item five-point Likert scale, was used to measure participants’ overall professionalism and five attitudinal dimensions of professionalism. The study utilized a descriptive comparative-correlational design to describe overall professionalism, the attitudinal attributes of professionalism, and the degree to which professionalism and its attributes are present in health sciences librarians. Descriptive statistical analyses were used to describe sample characteristics through the use of frequencies and percentages for categorical/nominal data and Professionalism scores and subscores (ANOVA, Pearson Product correlations). These analyses additionally identified differences in professionalism scores among different librarian characteristics.
Results: 430 participants completed the survey. The mean age of the participants was 46.5 years and the average years of experience in a health sciences library was 13.7 years. Most of the participants were women (87.3%), Caucasian (89.8%), held a Master’s degree in Library Science (90.7%), and worked full-time (95.3%) in an academic setting (73.4%). Overall, the average professionalism score was 83.1 out of 125. Today’s health sciences librarians scored highest in the dimensions of sense of calling and autonomy, whereas service to the public was the dimension that prompted the weakest response. Those librarians working in more traditional librarian roles, such as in collection development and access services, scored the highest on overall professionalism, while research librarians or subject specialists, those roles where librarians immerse themselves in outside disciplines, scored the lowest.
Conclusions: A number of factors influence the attitudes health sciences librarians feel toward professionalism, including their educational background, workplace setting, participation in professional organizations, and years experience. A deeper understanding of these factors allow us to grasp the personal and environmental factors that influence the occupation and gain a better insight into the ways in which current health sciences librarians feel about their place in society.