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Explore This Career: Health Sciences Librarianship

Do you have any of these characteristics?

  • ability to thrive in a constantly-changing environment
  • innovative ideas
  • technological aptitude
  • creativity and curiosity
  • service orientation
  • excellent communication skills
  • teaching ability
  • public relations savvy
  • organizational and problem-solving skills

Whether you're a high school student looking toward your future education,  a college student exploring the possibilities of a health-related career, or a health professional looking for a second career, health sciences librarianship may be the profession for you. 

What is a health sciences or medical librarian? What do they do?

Health sciences librarians are information professionals, librarians, or informaticists who have special knowledge in quality health information resources. They have a direct impact on the quality of patient care by helping physicians, allied health professionals, administrators, students, faculty, and researchers stay abreast of and learn about new developments in their fields.

Using materials and tools that range from traditional print journals to electronic databases and the latest mobile devices, health sciences librarians devise and use innovative strategies to access and deliver important information for patient care, research, and publication. This can mean answering a surgeon's call from a hospital emergency room for rush information, to helping a researcher develop a systematic review article for a prestigious journal by conducting an expert search of the literature. They may be called on to connect licensed electronic resources and decision tools into a patient's electronic medical record. They may be asked to find consumer health information in a patient's native language.

Health sciences librarians can do all of these things: they are reference and consumer health librarians, web managers, medical informatics specialists,  chief information officers, embedded information specialists, copyright and licensing experts, and data managers, as well as educators, patient safety advocates, and knowledge managers. 

 

Where do health sciences librarians work?

Anywhere health and biomedical information is needed! This includes academic medical centers and medical schools; hospitals and clinics; colleges, universities, and professional schools; consumer health libraries; research centers and foundations; industry, including biotechnology, insurance, medical equipment, pharmaceutical, and publishing; and federal, state, and local government agencies. 

What education do I need to become a health sciences librarian?

To enter the profession, at least a master’s degree in library or information sciences is required. A background in sciences, health sciences, or allied health can be helpful, but is not necessary. 

How much do health sciences librarians earn?

MLA surveys health sciences librarians about their salaries and benefits about every three years. In the 2012 MLA Salary Survey, we found that the average entry level salary (that is, the salary of someone with less that 1 year of experience) was $49,060 per year. The average salary of all US full-time health sciences librarians was $66,622 per year. The top salaries reported to us in 2012 were in director postions, ranging from a low average of $52,293 to a high average of $116,200 per year. 

Interested? Find out more!