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Professional Development

Disaster Information Specialization


The MLA Disaster Information Specialization provides training and recognition for librarians and others who rely on information for their work in disaster preparedness and response.

The specialization, developed by MLA and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), trains professionals to access, use, and manage information to support their institutions and communities in planning for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies and disasters.

All Specialization courses are offered at no cost.

There is a modest fee for reviewing applications and granting certificates.

Advance Your Career and Serve Your Community

The Basic and Advanced levels of the Disaster Information Specialization give you new, marketable skills that can help you advance your career and support your institution and community in times of disaster and public health emergencies.

MLA contact hours earned through the specialization may also be used for MLA's Academy of Health Information Professionals.

Eligible Participants

The Disaster Information Specialization is designed for:

  • Librarians, library staff, informationists, and information professionals, including those affiliated with medical, public, academic, special or any other types of libraries.
  • Disaster workforce members, including health professionals, allied health professionals, public health workers, first responders, emergency managers, community volunteers, and others who play a role in health-related disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

See a list of current Disaster Information Specialization recipients.

Specialization Levels

Basic Level

The Basic Level of the Specialization demonstrates foundational skills and knowledge in:

  • accessing essential health-related information to provide services for supporting disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
  • the purpose and operation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the operational heart of coordinated efforts to address emergencies and disasters
  • the purpose and operation of the Incident Command System (ICS) and how to coordinate with government and private-sector response partners

The Basic Level requires 15 CE credit hours of training:



You have three years to gather the credits needed to apply for the Basic Level of the Specialization. The Basic Level is valid for three years.

Advanced Level

The Advanced Level of the Specialization demonstrates advanced knowledge and skills in areas of special interest in Disaster Information. The Advanced Level requires a total of 27 CE Credits: the Basic Level requirements plus 12 additional credits. Select from the many offerings those that best serve your goals.

You can complete all the Advanced Level requirements in three years, or you can complete the Basic Level requirements and then take up to an additional three years to take 12 more credits for an Advanced Level.

You have three years to gather the credits needed to apply for the Advanced Level of the Specialization. The Advanced Level is valid for three years.

Basic and Advanced Level Renewals

To keep your Basic Level or Advanced Level Specialization valid, you must earn 8 CE credit hours of approved training every 3 years and submit a renewal application. We recommend that individuals with the Basic Specialization use their 3 years to acquire the Advanced Level Specialization instead of maintaining Basic Level. This requires only 12 more credits.

If your Specialization lapses for more than 6 months, you must begin the accreditation process from the beginning. Please apply for renewal 30 days before expiration to ensure a seamless process.

eLearning Courses: Get Started Now!

All MLA-approved Disaster Information Specialization courses (all courses approved for the DIS Specialization except FEMA courses).

All FEMA courses approved for the Disaster Information Specialization.

Applying for or Renewing Your DIS

Before submitting your application:

  • Complete required courses and credits for the Basic or Advanced level.
  • Collect course completion certificates for FEMA and UVA Health courses (“Disaster Health Information: The Basics,” “In Case of Emergencies (COOP),” “A Seat at the Table: Working with the Disaster Workforce”). Also, collect certificates for any MLA and NNLM courses not credited in your MEDLIB-ED transcript.
  • Fill out an Individual Participant Request (IPR) form to receive credit for any relevant educational activity sponsored by other education providers. 
  • Pay the application fee by visiting the MLA Online Store. (members: $55, nonmembers: $75)
  • Once you submit payment, you will receive a link to the online application.
  • Complete the online application and upload requested certificate(s) or IPR form(s). 

MLA will process the application and, on approval, send you a notification letter and certificate recognizing your level of achievement.

If you have questions about the Disaster Information Specialization program, please do not hesitate to contact MLA's Professional Development Department.


This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine under contract HHS-N-276-2010-00782-P.

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