MLA - Medical Library Association (U.S.)
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The Medical Library Association (MLA) is a nonprofit association of more than 4000+ medical librarians who work in more than 1000+ organizations in the health library and information professions in the United States and elsewhere. The MLA organization is committed to educating health information professionals and supporting health information research in the United States and abroad. As such, MLA promotes access to the world's health information to ensure that the best information is widely-available, and not just for medical librarians. 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).
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
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 all medical librarians in the country should apply is one that each librarian must consider. Some health librarians say that the program is expensive while others say that AHIP is a good way to address our learning needs as Canadian health librarians. While AHIP is not widely-known or recognized by health library employers in Canada, there is some value in obtaining AHIP for health librarians in Canada. AHIP's costs can be prohibitive and outweigh its benefits and CHLA/ABSC (Canada) may adopt its own credentialing or licensing program.