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The Canadian Health Libraries Association / Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada (CHLA/ABSC) is Canada's major professional library association for hospital and health librarians. Founded in 1976, the Association represents the views of Canadian health librarians right across the country especially to other library associations, governments, health communities and fellow librarians. CHLA/ABSC holds an annual conference (late May or early June), and publishes 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 300 members from coast to coast. Here is the 2013-2014 Board of Directors.
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. 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 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 arm. At the 1975 meeting, the ad-hoc committee was established to review developments, and to propose a way forward. The Canadians were 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 helped to select the executive.
The 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.
The Executive of the CHLA/ABSC is working on a number of initiatives, including facilitating the National Network of Libraries of Health and the Canadian Virtual Health Library / Bibliothèque virtuelle canadienne de la santé (CVHL / BVCS) which received $800,000 worth of funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in 2010. The President regularly contributes to issues such as Canada-wide access to the Cochrane Library, and the new digital copyright act (Bill C-61).
In 2013, President Jeff Mason made official statements about the problems at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), and the Dale Askey case.