CHLA/ABSC (Canada)

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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, July 2018


See also Accreditation | Evidence-based health care | List of Canadian health libraries 800px-Flag of Canada.svg.png | JCHLA/JABSC | What health librarians do

The Canadian Health Libraries Association / Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada (CHLA/ABSC), founded in 1976, is Canada's professional library association for hospital and health library and information professionals. Members work in various organizations such as academic health libraries, hospital libraries and other special libraries. In Canada, many library professionals work within clinical teams as systematic review experts, expert searchers and clinical librarians. Further, CHLA/ABSC represents the views of Canadian health librarians across Canada and does so in various ways: via other library associations, government, health communities and through member librarians. CHLA/ABSC holds its annual conference in late May or early June each year, alternating between the west, east and central locations such as Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto. The organization publishes tri-annually an open access journal called the Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association/Journal de l'Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada (JCHLA/JABSC). The Association has more than 250 members from coast to coast. Here is a current list of the Board of Directors.

In 2016, the MLA - Medical Library Association (U.S.) and CHLA/ABSC held a joint conference in Toronto. The 2017 CHLA/ABSC Conference was held in Edmonton, Alberta and, in 2018, the conference will be held in St. John's, Newfoundland.

History & beginnings

  • CHLA / ABSC's beginnings can be traced back to an annual meeting of the MLA - Medical Library Association (U.S.) held in Cleveland in 1975. The MLA Canadian Group met on June 2, 1975 and voted to establish an “Ad hoc committee to study the organizational status of Canadian health librarians”, which sought to stave off fragmentation of health library groups, and to be more unified in vision and advocacy. It was felt that Canadian health librarians should speak with a unified voice, but three national groups were in existence in Canada at this time (the Section de la santé of ASTED was the fourth). The Special Resource Committee on Medical School Libraries of the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges (ACMC) was one group, consisting of directors of Canada's medical school libraries under the ACMC. Formed in 1967, ACMC succeeded the Canadian Library Association’s Committee on Medical Science Libraries that dated from 1961. Second, the Health Sciences Section of CASLIS (the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services) banded together under CLA. It was a spin-off of the Committee on Medical School Libraries noted above; the third was the Canadian Group of the Medical Library Association, formed in 1974 as a means to formalize links between Canadian members of MLA and MLA's administrative structure. At the 1975 meeting of the MLA’s Canadian Group an ad-hoc committee was established to review developments, and to propose a way forward. The Canadian Group was led by Dick Fredericksen, then the Health Sciences Librarian at Memorial University. The group voted to establish a committee with the following mission: “To survey local health science library groups across the country; to discover the gaps existing; to locate key personnel.” David S. Crawford from McGill University was appointed to chair (and was authorised to select the members of) the ad-hoc committee.

According to the Osler Library Archives:

  • "Before the formation of the CHLA/ABSC, Canadian health science librarians belonged to the Canadian Group of the Medical Library Association, CG MLA an official group of the Medical Library Association. The Group’s annual meeting was held during the annual meeting of the Medical Library Association. Its purpose was to permit Canadian members of the MLA to meet on an annual basis to discuss issues unique to Canadian health science librarians and to be listed in the MLA programme of Canadian Health Librarians. In June of 1975, the Ad-Hoc Committee to Study the Organizational Status of Canadian Health Librarians was established to review the organization of Canadian health science librarians and to recommend a system to improve communication between such libraries and to provide a means of communication with Provincial and Federal governments. The committee was chaired by David S. Crawford of McGill University and had the following members : Philippe Lemay, Head of the Health Sciences Resource Centre at the Canada Institute for Science and Technological Information, CISTI, Alan Macdonald, Head of the of the Kellog Health Sciences Library at Dalhousie University, Richard Fredericksen, Head of the Health Sciences Library at Memorial University and Chair of the Canadian Group of the Medical Libraries Association, Dorothy Sirois, Head of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Library and a member of L’Association pour l’avancement des sciences et des techniques de la documentation, ASTED, Section de la santé, Martha Stone, Head of the Library of Health and Welfare Canada and Sheila Swanson, President of the health sciences section of the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services, CASLIS. In 1976, the Canadian Group of the MLA accepted the report resulting from a survey which underlined the need for a separate Canadian organization. The report was also accepted by the meeting of the Health Sciences Section of CASLIS at its 1976 meeting where members voted for the dissolution of the section. The CG MLA agreed to dissolve in 1980 as a bi-lateral Agreement had just been signed between CHLA and the MLA. The first constitution of the CHLA/ABSC came into effect in October 1976. The Osler Library is the official repository if the CHLA/ABSC archives."
  • Members selected were Dick Fredericksen, Sheila Swanson (then Librarian of the Toronto Academy of Medicine and the chair of CASLIS), Ann Nevill (then Head of the Health Sciences Resource Centre at CISTI), Martha Stone (then Head of the library at the Department of National Health and Welfare), Dorothy Sirois (then Librarian at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and a link with ASTED Section de la santé. Subsequently, in October 1975, Alan MacDonald, who had been much involved in the creation of the Canadian Association of Law Librarians and had recently been appointed Health Sciences Librarian at Dalhousie University, joined the ad-hoc committee as a second representative from CASLIS. In February 1976, Philippe Lemay, recently appointed to head the HSRC, replaced Ann Nevill. In June 1976, the Canadian Section of MLA (meeting in Minneapolis) and the CASLIS Section, meeting in Halifax accepted the report of the Ad-hoc Committee. The MLA Canadian Group accepted it (34 voted in favour, one against) with one amendment; this was to remove the capitalization from the proposed name "in case a better name is suggested"! In the summer of 1976, the ad hoc committee accepted submissions from the community. It met for the last time on 4th October 1976 and agreed that support was sufficient to form a new association. The minutes from the meeting says “...we are left with [the name] the Canadian Health Libraries Association, the addition of ‘Sciences’ was not well received at the CASLIS meeting.” Subsequently, the Canadian Group of MLA and the Health Sciences Section of CASLIS disbanded. The CHLA/ABSC Executive works with the Committee on Medical School Libraries of Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada - AFMC (successor to ACMC). CHLA/ABSC's first President, David S. Crawford, wrote an article on this formative period of the development of CHLA/ABSC in Bibliotheca Medica Canadiana (BMC) in 2000.


See also

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