Health librarianship workforce and education: research to plan the future. Final Report

Gillian Hallam, Ann Ritchie, Cheryl Hamill, Suzanne Lewis, Melanie Kammermann, Patrick O'Connor, Catherine Clark, Carol Newton-Smith

Research output: Book/ReportOther output

Abstract

In late 2009, Health Libraries Australia (HLA) received a small grant to undertake a national research project to determine the future requirements for health librarians in the workforce in Australia and develop a structured, modular education framework (post-graduate qualification and continuing professional development structure) to meet these requirements.

The main objective was to consider the education and professional development framework that would ensure that health librarians have a clearly defined scope of practice and the specific competency based knowledge and skills that enable them to contribute to the design and delivery of high quality health services in this country.

The final report presents a detailed discussion of the changing Australian healthcare environment and the resulting impact on the health library sector, as well as an overview of international trends in health libraries and the implications for Australian health librarianship education. The research methodology is outlined, followed by an analysis of the findings from the two surveys with health librarians and health library managers and the semi-structured interviews conducted with employers. The Medical Library Association (MLA) in the United States had developed a policy document detailing the competencies required by health librarians. It was found that the MLA competencies represented an accepted professional framework of skills which could be used objectively in the survey instrument to measure the areas of professional knowledge and responsibilities that were relevant in the current workplace, and to identify how these requirements might change in the next three to five years.

The research results underscore the imperative for health librarians to engage in regular, relevant professional development activities that will enable them to stay abreast with the rapid contextual changes impacting on their practice. In order to be accepted as key members of the multi-disciplinary health professional team, it is strongly believed that health librarians should commit to establishing the mechanisms for specialist certification maintained through compulsory CPD in an ongoing three-year cycle of revalidation. This development would align ALIA and health librarians with other health sector professional associations which are responsible for the self regulation of entry to and continuation in their profession.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherALIA Health Libraries Australia
VolumeFinal
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

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