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Honoring Our Past

An interesting editorial by L. Margueriete Prime has a title that will catch the eye of readers: “Too Many ‘Librarians’?” Certainly, members of MLA would not suggest that we have too many librarians. You must read it to understand that she was describing the confusion between medical librarians and medical record librarians. She pointed out that the confusion was caused by misdirected phone calls and mail, books that go astray, and time wasted in correcting these mistakes. Prime described the duties and responsibilities of each of these “librarian” professions and explained that in 1953 a joint committee of MLA and the Association of Medical Record Librarians of North America tried to find a term that would accurately describe the work carried out in the record room. Numerous suggestions were offered, but none satisfied the record librarians [1].

In 2003, Carolyn E. Lipscomb, AHIP, FMLA, Atlanta, Georgia, explored the work of the Misnomers Committee that tried to take “librarian” out of the title of medical record librarian. You will find this a most informative review of MLA’s efforts to achieve the change [2]. Time eventually solved the problem. Both professions have evolved and changed. The electronic medical record has effected many changes in the hospital, and many medical librarians consider themselves informaticists, knowledge searchers, informationists, or cybrarians. Not all librarians work in a library. The world of the library has been in constant change since the 1950s. We should expect that the next decades will bring many changes not yet on the horizon.


  1. Prime LM. Too many “librarians”? Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1954 Apr;42(2):186–8.
  2. Lipscomb CE. Professional boundaries and medical records management. J Med Libr Assoc. 2003 Oct;91(4):393–6.

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