History of the Association
A Brief History of the
Medical Library Association
The Medical Library Association (MLA) celebrated its centennial in 1998. Over the past century, members of MLA have served society by improving health through the provision of information. Members are partners on the health care team, playing a vital role in the delivery of health care, in the conduct of medical research, and in the education of health professionals. Members have also been instrumental in getting high-quality health information to the general public.
Health sciences librarians are leaders in the application and promotion of technology for the dissemination of information and the development of knowledge. Pioneers in the use of data processing, online interactive searching, electronic mail, Internet access, and high-performance computing and communications, they are currently using their own expertise to enhance access to health-related information on the World Wide Web.
Health sciences librarians are your health information connection and believe that better health information leads to better health care decisions. They train tomorrow's health care providers to use technology to manage information effectively, as part of the decision-making process. To support the efforts of health care professionals to be lifelong learners requires that the Medical Library Association be committed to improving the knowledge and skills of its members. The association has been a leader in providing continuing education and credentialing to its members as well as a model for other professional groups.
In addition to supporting medical research, health sciences librarians conduct information research on a variety of topics, most notably the information-seeking behaviors of health professionals and the impact of health sciences libraries on the quality of patient care.
Recognizing a global community, MLA members in forty-three countries around the world support the information needs of both health professionals and consumers. Health sciences librarians have been responsive to the social issues of the times, from supplying European libraries with materials after the devastation of World War II to contributing technical expertise to the fight against AIDS. The Medical Library Association promotes a legislative agenda that supports access to the world's health sciences information. landmark initiatives resulting from activity in the legislative arena include a strong national library with international programs, a national network of biomedical libraries for resource sharing, the development of integrated information management systems within and among institutions, and support for the development of knowledge and skills for information professionals. Coalitions and alliances with other organizations, agencies, and individuals who support the Medical Library Association's mission extend its resources and influence.
The Medical Library Association and its members are poised for further contributions in the next century as information and health care delivery are rapidly transformed.