MLA - Medical Library Association (U.S.)

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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 11 May 2016


  • health librarians, health library associations, medical librarians, professional associations


See also Associations | CHLA/ABSC (Canada) 800px-Flag of Canada.svg.png | List of Canadian health libraries | National Library of Medicine (U.S.)

The Medical Library Association (MLA) is a nonprofit association of more than 4000 medical librarians who work in 1000+ organizations in the health library and information profession. The organization is committed to educating health information professionals and supporting health information research in the United States. As such, MLA promotes access to the world's health information to ensure that the best information is widely-available. MLA was founded in 1898 by three prominent figures in 19th century medicine and medical librarianship including two Canadians: Sir William Osler and Margaret Ridley Charlton. In terms of membership, MLA is about ten times (10x) larger than the CHLA/ABSC (Canada).

In early 2016, it was announced that Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan would assume the position of NLM Director in August 2016. She will be the first female and first nurse to serve as head of the Library in its 180-year history.

Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP)

Many health professions require the licensing of its practitioners, and the Academy of Health Information Professionals is the medical library profession's official licensing body in the United States. (Although many Canadian health librarians also participate in the program.) AHIP is also MLA's peer-reviewed professional development and career recognition program. AHIP recognizes the investment of time and effort that go into exemplary performance in the field and in terms of contributing to the profession. AHIP provides a structure for individual professional development for health information professionals, and it doesn't matter how long someone has been in the field. Whether new to the profession or practicing for years, the academy has a membership level and professional development guideline that will suit your purposes.

Benefits of MLA membership

  • Access to JMLA
  • Discounted rates at conferences and CE classes
  • Involvement with other professionals
  • Network opportunities
  • Tools online for members only
  • Membership in a professional organization is something that elevates us from admin to professional status
  • Newsletter and journal to keep us current in our field
  • Exposure to best practices
  • Collegiality
  • Enhance your career through AHIP credential
  • Learn from talking to people at conferences and meetings
  • Network of professional peers that can help you do your job better
  • MLA serves as a strong advocate for health science librarians
  • MLA supports a mentorship program
  • MLA provides a platform for members to contribute through presentations, posters, and publications
  • Free online CE opportunities
  • A chance to contribute wisdom/ideas/scholarships to the profession
  • MLA's list of benefits -

Canadian context

A number of Canadian health librarians go to the annual MLA conference, and CHLA/ABSC (Canada) sends representatives from the Board (usually the President) to represent us at MLA meetings. As more and more Canadian health librarians apply for AHIP designation, the question of whether it is useful or of benefit is one that each librarian must consider. Some Canadian health librarians suggest that the program is too expensive; still others suggest that AHIP does not truly address our specific learning needs as Canadian health librarians. As AHIP is not widely-known or recognized by health library employers in Canada, there is also some debate about the value of AHIP for health librarians in Canada. Some of AHIP's costs seem prohibitive and outweigh benefit; consequently, it has been suggested that CHLA/ABSC (Canada) adopt its own credentialing or licensing program.


See also

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