About the Medical Library Association
Founded on May 2, 1898, by four librarians and four physicians, the Medical Library Association (MLA) serves more than 4,000 institutions and professionals in the health information field. MLA fosters excellence in the professional achievement and leadership of health sciences library and information professionals to enhance the quality of health care, education, and research. We further the professional development of our members through career information resources, meetings, publications, courses, awards, scholarships, and various support services. Corporate partners forge new links between MLA and providers of products and services to the medical and health information profession. The association also serves as an advocate for the profession and for all health sciences libraries and librarians. (For more information, see MLA History and MLA Milestones.)
Membership is for 12 months, beginning in January, and is structured to accommodate the needs of a diverse field of practitioners. Categories include
Attendees at MLA’s annual meeting present and discuss scholarly papers, applied research, and issues in health sciences information management. Professionals with specific interests in the field, such as informatics, come together to address topics of timely importance. Educational sessions are complemented by an exhibit hall featuring vendors of related products and services. Members receive discounts on registration.
Special interest sections represent MLA’s members’ varied subfields and areas of specialization, including medical informatics and consumer and patient education. Sections meet at the annual meeting and share information during the year through networking and through section newsletters. Informal special interest groups, ad hoc groups open to association members, address specific short-term issues or are established subgroups within MLA sections.
Thirteen geographic groups are currently affiliated with MLA. These chapters provide a vital link to the programs and services of the association, and they are open to both MLA members and nonmembers.
MLA strives to develop meaningful professional standards, a powerful force in upgrading medical library services, resources, and facilities. Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success: The Educational Policy Statement of the Medical Library Association, was updated in 2007 to reflect the essential areas of knowledge and skills required by today's health sciences librarians.
MLA representatives also played an active role in formulating standards relating to management in the Accreditation Manual for Hospitals, published by the Joint Commission. MLA’s latest edition of professional guidelines for hospital librarians, Standards for Hospital Librarians, was developed by the association’s Hospital Libraries Section and is available in the Journal of the Medical Library Association.
MLA's information issues and policy program serves as a link between librarians and federal agencies, such as the National Library of Medicine (NLM). We take public positions on federal regulations and legislation that affect the health sciences information field and we assist librarians in their contacts with health-related government agencies, Congress, and regulatory agencies. MLA also promotes the free exchange of information among health sciences libraries around the world.
MLA helps librarians locate quality jobs and employers locate quality employees by producing and distributing information on careers in health information science, conducting salary surveys of the profession, listing employment opportunities via MLANET and organizing a placement service and resumé assistance at the annual meeting.
The Academy of Health Information Professionals, established in 1989, assists librarians in defining career goals, assessing areas of professional competence, and developing a network of supportive colleagues. Admission to, advancement within, and retention by the academy is based on educational qualifications, documented knowledge in identified core areas, and professional experience.
MLA has developed a variety of courses for health sciences librarians, recent graduates, and others interested in information management. Courses are scheduled throughout the year and are offered online, at the annual meeting, at regional chapter meetings, and locally.
All voting association members receive subscriptions to the Journal of the Medical Library Association, the MLA News, and the MLA-FOCUS email newsletter. MLA also publishes books on subjects of professional interest, as well as booklets on topical issues, research updates, and the popular Deciphering Medspeak series.
Each year MLA honors individuals who have rendered distinguished service to medical libraries and have furthered the purposes of health sciences librarianship. These awards recognize significant leadership in the profession, notable developments in applied technology, superior accomplishments in research, or original contributions to literature in the field.
MLA provides financial support to health sciences librarians at a variety of levels. Scholarships are awarded to promising candidates seeking to enter the profession; one of these scholarships is designated for a student from identified minority groups. Grants are available to practicing health sciences librarians engaged in continuing education or research projects.
The MLA Exchange offers duplicate bound and unbound journal issues to MLA’s institutional members. Institutional members submit lists of their duplicate journals; headquarters assembles and distributes a quarterly electronic list of all submissions. Institutions then select and request journals directly from other institutions, reimbursing them for postage when journals are received.
Read a brief history of the association developed for our centennial celebration in 1998. MLA's Oral History Project conducts interviews with MLA leaders. A synopsis of the program and excerpts of oral histories are available on MLANET.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2012 October 12