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MLA Milestones 1898-1998

Additional milestones through 2022 are still being updated. 

Year Milestone
1879 National Library of Medicine (NLM) Milestone: First issue of Index Medicus produced.
1898 The Medical Library Association (MLA) is founded as the Association of Medical Librarians on May 2, 1898, by four librarians and four physicians in the office of the Philadelphia Medical Journal at the invitation of George M. Gould, M.D., editor of the journal. The object of the association was the fostering of medical libraries and the maintenance of an exchange of medical literature among its members. Membership was limited to librarians representing medical libraries of not less than 500 volumes and with regular library hours and attendance.
1899 The association's Exchange is established in Philadelphia, PA. Some 300 volumes were exchanged between libraries during the first year.
1907 The name of the association is changed to the Medical Library Association.
1911 MLA begins publishing its own journal, the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. Three earlier titles contained association news: Medical Libraries, the Bulletin of the Association of Medical Librarians, and the Medical Library and Historical Journal.
1917 Medical libraries responded to the war effort: made military medicine resources available to military officials and bases, stopped providing complimentary issues to save paper, and following the war worked to obtain overseas journals not distributed during the war.
1925 Medical libraries gave duplicate journal issues and provided subscriptions to aid German libraries. At the same time, librarians were greatly concerned by the cost of German periodicals.
1929 The bylaws are revised and significant changes in the organization and infrastructure are established. Members are reclassified into three classes: library members, supporting members, and professional members. Membership of libraries is broadened to include dental, veterinary, biological, and related libraries. A Nominating Committee is established; voting by mail is established; standing committees are established; location of the annual meeting is determined by the association instead of the Executive Committee.
1933 Marcia C. Noyes, charter member of the association, is the first woman and the first non-physician to be elected president of MLA.
1934 The association is incorporated in Maryland.MLA joins the International Federation of Library Associations. The association agrees to pay .05 per member for all classes of membership for IFLA dues.
1941-45 Medical libraries once again support the war effort. The librarians opened their libraries to provide service to all medical officers and hospitals, sent books and other materials to military camps, and extended hours of operation to serve the military. Many libraries in major cities moved valuable books to safer locations.Medical libraries and librarians supported the work of libraries in Europe and shared duplicate subscriptions.
1943 The first medical library manual entitled A Handbook of Medical Library Practice is published by the American Library Association.NLM Milestone: Survey of the Army Medical Library was undertaken by a six-librarian team (including Janet Doe and Mary Louise Marshall of MLA) to recommend ways to reinvigorate the library after years of inadequate funding and loss of trained staff. The team's report recommended a new building, a career librarian to administer essential library functions, increased funding, etc.
1945 The association hires its first salaried employee, Mildred V. Naylor, as manager of the Exchange.
1946 The constitution is amended to provide for a physician as honorary vice-president with the office of the president and all other offices to be held by professional librarians in active work. The qualifications of professional membership are changed, and an Exchange Committee and Finance Committee are established.Mary Louise Marshall issues a call for the training and certification of medical librarians to fill the need for more professionals in the profession.
1947 The International Cooperation Committee received the first of several three-year grants from the Rockefeller Foundation to finance fellowships for medical librarians outside North America to travel to the United States.
1948 The first training program for medical librarianship is offered at Columbia University. Regional groups are established and subject groups begin meeting.First survey on employment and salary standards are published.NLM Milestone: First edition of The Army Medical Library Classification.
1949 The association adopts a Code of Training and Certification of Medical Librarians, its first certification program.The first award to recognize the contributions of members to the profession—the Marcia C. Noyes Award—is presented to Eileen R. Cunningham.
1950 The MLA membership directory is published as a separate publication for the first time.
1952 The association published a book series with the Development of Medical Bibliography by Estelle Brodman as the first title.The association begins publishing Vital Notes on Medical Periodicals, which provides new information on medical and related journals.
1956 The first Murray Gottlieb Prize Essay Award for an essay on American medical history is presented to Dorothy Long.NLM Milestone: Armed Forces Medical Library becomes National Library of Medicine as a result of legislation sponsored by Senators Lister Hill and John F. Kennedy.
1958 Formal continuing education courses are offered for the first time at the annual meeting in Rochester, MN. Twelve courses are presented.
1961 The association established a central office with Helen Brown Schmidt appointed as executive secretary.The association published the MLA News as the vehicle for disseminating association news more frequently than in the quarterly Bulletin.
1963 The 62nd MLA Annual Meeting is held in conjunction with the Second International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML) in Washington, DC. Purposes of the ICML were to exchange information on the art and science of librarianship, to advance the state of the art and strengthen its techniques, and to improve the quality of the service which medical librarianship contributes to the advancement of medicine.
1964 MEDLARS is implemented by the National Library of Medicine with the first automated printing of Index Medicus.
1965 MLA supports passage of the Medical Library Assistance Act (MLAA). Under the administration of the National Library of Medicine, MLAA brings about unprecedented growth and development of medical library services, including:
  • building, expanding, and constructing more than eighty-six medical school libraries, representing the greatest expansion in the history of medical school libraries;
  • growth of hospital libraries during the 1970s, expanding both space and facilities;
  • awarding of training grants to medical librarians to meet the special needs of health science libraries and the medical communities they serve;
  • offering of training grants in the application of computer technology to the health sciences;
  • MLA research grant program which supports basic research in health sciences librarianship and computers in medicine;
  • establishment of the Resource Grants Program to assist public or private, nonprofit health sciences libraries in establishing, expanding, or improving their resource and information services;
  • almost 700 percent increase in the number of hospital librarians with MLA degrees from 1969 to 1984;
  • development of the Regional Medical Library Program with a network of over 3,500 libraries to provide health professionals with timely, convenient access to health care and biomedical resources;
  • establishment of the Integrated Academic Information Management Systems (IAMS) program to support development of networks that facilitate the flow of recorded biomedical knowledge throughout academic health science centers and hospitals.
1967 The first Janet Doe Lecture on the History of Philosophy of Medical Librarianship is presented by Gertrude L. Annan.NLM Milestone: Regional Medical Library Program begins.
1968 The advent of online searching is instituted with the nine libraries accessing the SUNY Biomedical Communication Network Index Medicus database.
1971 The Clinical Medical Librarian Program is instituted. NLM Milestone: MEDLINE becomes operational.
1972 The association hires its first full-time executive director. NLM Milestone: Toxline becomes operational.
1979 MLA sends delegates to the White House Conference on Library and Information Services.
1982 The Matheson/Cooper report, Academic Information in the Health Sciences Center: Roles for the Library in Information Management, is published. The resulting IAIMS grant program brings about profound changes in the way libraries organize information services within their institutions.
1983 The MLA Board of Directors begins to use electronic mail for communicating.
1985 Increased emphasis on legislative and advocacy issues is realized with the establishment of the Joint MLA/AAHSL Legislative Task Force.
1986 NLM Milestone: Grateful Med is introduced.
1987 Challenge to Action: Planning and Evaluation Guidelines for Academic Health Sciences Libraries is published. MLA develops a strategic plan, Shaping the Future.
1988 A new credentialing program, the Academy of Health Information Professionals is established.
1991 MLA participates in the second White House Conference on Library and Information Services.MLA supports passage of the High-Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Act to facilitate development of a high-speed national computer telecommunications network.National Coordination Office for the HPCC Program is established at NLM which funds grants to connect educational institutions and local hospitals to NLM's databases.MLA participates in Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) Information Management Task Force which is charged to develop new standards on hospital information management, including library services.
1992 Platform for Change, MLA's educational policy statement, is published. The focus is on the individual's responsibility for his/her own lifelong learning.
1994 MLA adopts a code of ethics for professional practice.The first volume, Reference and Information Services in Health Sciences Libraries, of the eight-volume series Current Practice in Health Sciences Libraries, is published. This series is the successor to the four editions of the Handbook of Medical Library Practice.
1995 MLA is joint sponsor of the 7th International Congress on Medical Librarianship held in conjunction with its annual meeting in Washington, DC.MLA participates on the Education and Training Panel convened by the National Library of Medicine that results in grants to study the future education and training needs of health sciences librarians.MLA adopts a research platform entitled Using Scientific Evidence to Improve Information Practice. MLA mounts MLANET on the World Wide Web.
1996 NLM Milestone: Grateful Med available to search MEDLINE and other databases.Bulletin of the Medical Library Association (BMLA) launches electronic table of contents on MLANET.
1997 NLM Milestone: Free web access to MEDLINE via PUBMed and Internet Grateful Med is announced by Vice President Albert J. Gore. MLA supports the provision of MEDLINE free to the public.
1998 MLA's 100th anniversary celebration takes place in Philadelphia, the city where MLA was founded. Meeting attendance is the highest ever for an MLA meeting not held in conjunction with another group.

MLA commissions the Hay Group to conduct a study about how organizations compensate medical library professionals performing information technology oriented roles, and how that compensation compares to IT professionals. 

2001 The Donald A. B. Lindberg Research Fellowship is established with a $25,000 endowment to fund research that extends the knowledgebase of health sciences librarianship and informatics and improves the practice of the profession.
2002 With volume 90, number 1, the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association changes its name to the Journal of the Medical Library Association.
2002 Supported with a grant from NLM, MLA hosts an invitation-only informationist conference in Bethesda, MD, to facilitate a national discussion.
2003 Entire back file (1911–2001) of BMLA digitized on PubMed Central. MLA publishes a statement that supports both the concept of open access to information generated from federally funded scientific and medical research and maintains that having access to timely, relevant, and accurate information is vital to the health of our nation and its education and research programs.
2003 MLA begins offering the Consumer Health Information Specialization program, open to public librarians, allied health professionals, and librarians working in consumer health libraries as well as medical librarians.
2005 Librarians without Borders® is established to provide training in the field of information retrieval and library information assistance to people anywhere in the world, namely training in the use of computers used for library research and general training on how to effectively conduct research using a library. The initiative also helps provide medical information for healthcare personnel responding to epidemics and natural and man-made disasters anywhere in the world.
2005 MLA establishes an online medical library disaster relief fund in the wake of the Indonesian tsunami disaster. The fund is activated again later that year to support medical libraries impacted by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.
2007 The JMLA editorial team starts the first official MLA blog, JMLA Case Studies in Health Sciences Librarianship.
2008 MLA and Neal-Schuman publish a record-breaking eight books, including updated editions of Introduction to Reference Sources in the Health Sciences and Drug Information.
2010 For the first time, members can attend the annual meeting virtually through the lower-cost "e-conference" registration option, which includes live streaming video and audiorecordings of plenaries and other meeting sessions, as well as access to the online Conference Community.