There are four items necessary to become a health sciences librarian: post-secondary education, librarian training, experience in a health sciences library, and research skills. A health sciences information librarian assists health sector professionals in locating information. Health science librarians are usually responsible for managing the collection, locating specific resources, compiling research on a specific topic, and checking references provided in articles.
A health science librarian can find employment opportunities in a wide range of locations. The most common employers are universities with a medical school, large research hospitals, and government agencies. A typical public library would not have a health science librarian, as the collection of materials would be too small. However, many research hospitals have extensive libraries and keep a librarian on staff to assist researchers with their work.
The first step to become a health sciences information librarian is to obtain a master in librarian science degree. This program is offered by a wide range of universities and is organized through the Faculty of Library Sciences or Information Studies. In order to gain admission into this program, the candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree.
The master of library science (MLS) degree is two to three years in length. Courses focus on organization of data, location systems, references, research theories, practices and other related issues. There are a large number of research papers required in this program, and the workload can be quite heavy.
The type of work experience necessary to become a health sciences information librarian includes working in a library, research assistant, writer, freelance researcher, and information management. Increasingly, research materials are available via the Internet. This shift requires a high level of computer skills in order to become a health sciences information librarian.
The research skills required to become a librarian include data organization, excellent writing skills, attention to detail, and computer skills. Many of the courses required at library school focus on different research techniques and when to apply them. There are several formats for citing sources used in health publications and it is the responsibility of the health science librarian to provide the list of sources and references to the researcher in the appropriate format.
People who enjoy working independently, have a strong customer service bias, and are avid readers gain the most satisfaction when they become a health sciences information librarian. The work is very customer and communication oriented. Patience, dedication, and listening skills are all essential to a successful career.