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About the RTI

The Medical Library Association’s (MLA) Research Training Institute (RTI) is an immersive online continuing education program that provides advanced research methods training and support for library professionals to complete a research project of their choosing. The RTI training program is unique in the country, funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and has proven to be a highly-effective training model with a laser-focus on propelling health sciences librarians to become successful researchers and authors. The RTI program also serves as a new model for research methods education in graduate library and information sciences master’s programs through its RTI Online Embedded Student Program and academic partnerships.

RTI Academic Partners

The RTI program includes a pilot research methods education project for Library and Information Sciences (LIS) graduate students. It offers students advanced research instruction and the educational experience of developing and implementing a research project that will be of practical use and importance to them as future LIS practitioners. Four LIS graduate students from the University of North Texas (UNT), Master of Science in Information Science program and two LIS graduate students from Emporia State University (ESU), School of Library and Information Management program will be embedded into the 2021 and 2022 RTI institutes. The pilot project serves as a model for all other LIS master’s programs for improving the quality of research methods instruction in a formal LIS graduate-level program. It provides much-needed advanced research methods education as part of a formal LIS graduate-level course, and it innovatively offers real-world opportunities (experiential learning) for LIS graduate students to collaborate with LIS practitioners.

RTI Background Information

The RTI program is an essential element of MLA’s core values, mission, and strategic goals. In 2015 the MLA Board of Directors appointed the MLA Research Imperative Task Force (RITF) to advance research and evidence-based practices in health sciences libraries. The Task Force developed an action plan that established the MLA RTI, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors in 2016. In 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded MLA a three-year Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant to plan and offer two five-day Institutes at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) in July 2018 and July 2019. In 2020, IMLS awarded MLA a second three-year grant to transition the successful in-person RTI research training program to online formats and to offer two online Institutes in 2021 and 2022. The new RTI online program capitalizes on the advantages of online learning (greater affordability, accessibility, and flexibility), while providing high-quality education in advanced research methods to a more diverse and inclusive health librarian-researcher workforce.

RTI Leadership Team

The RTI leadership team provides oversight of the RTI training program and program assessment; IMLS grant activities, staff, and budget; MLA education services support; and RTI partnerships, fundraising, and the dissemination of program information and results.

Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, RTI Project Director,Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA ORCID, provides oversight of the RTI project and assessment activities. Lessick is a Librarian Emerita, University of California, Irvine (UCI) and served for nearly 30 years at UCI as Head of the Grunigen Medical Library among other positions. Lessick’s research interests include librarian-led research, research education, emerging technologies, and copyright and has an extensive presentation and publication record that reflects these areas. Active in MLA, she served as chair of the Research Imperative Task Force (RITF), Research Section, Hospital Libraries Section, and Editorial Board Member and Virtual Projects Section Editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA). Lessick received the MLA Presidential Award in 2017 for her work on the Task Force to Review MLA’s Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success, and in 2020 for her contributions to the RTI program.

Deb Cavanaugh,Debra Cavanaugh MLA Director of Professional Development, maintains RTI and other grant-related web pages and web conferencing services, and manages the RTI registration services and RTI Jury review process. At MLA, Cavanaugh works in collaboration with the Director of Education and education committees to design and implement MLA curriculum and educational offerings. Cavanaugh also manages and advises the Contributed Content Work Group of the MLA National Program Committee and coordinates the abstract submission and review process for the MLA National Annual Meeting.

Barry Grant,Barry Grant PhD, MLA Director of Education, ensures the delivery of a high-quality RTI learning program and oversees MLA education support services, RTI finances, and RTI grant staff. At MLA, Grant serves as Director of Education and leads the association’s professional development activities in four key areas: continuing education, annual meeting educational programming, relationships with external educational stakeholders, and credentialing.

Mary Langman,Mary Langman MLA Director of Information Issues and Policy, serves as Primary Contact/Grants Administrator, collecting, reviewing, and submitting IMLS grant documentation. Langman facilitates RTI collaboration across MLA units and with grant partners and oversees fundraising activities for RTI. At MLA, Langman is responsible for administration of recurring and non-recurring public policy issues, board and governance activities, archiving, fundraising, maintaining program website pages, committee and other volunteer records in the MLA member database.

RTI Grant Partners

2020-2023 RTI Partners

2017-2020 RTI Partners

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Grant Proposals

2020 IMLS Grant Proposal

  • Read the narrative of MLA’s successful grant proposal funded by the IMLS.
  • List of references in grant proposal.

2017 IMLS Grant Proposal

  • Read the narrative of MLA’s successful grant proposal funded by the IMLS.
  • List of references in grant proposal.

MLA Grant Announcements

  • RTI News: IMLS Awards Second Grant to MLA to Deepen the Research Capacity of Health Sciences Librarians, July 30, 2020
  • MLA Press Release, August 3, 2017

For questions regarding the institute, please contact Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, RTI project director.


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