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 profession. The MLA is committed to educating health information professionals and supporting health information research in the United States. As such, it 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).
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 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.