What is a Health Sciences Information Librarian?

S. Gonzales
S. Gonzales
An old fashioned card catalog in a library.
An old fashioned card catalog in a library.

The job of a health sciences information librarian is to collect, organize, and provide up-to-date resources and information about medical topics. The medical information he or she is expected to deliver can range from the general to the highly specialized, in scientific, biomedical, and clinical fields. Generally, these librarians provide the information necessary for medical professionals to treat patients. They may also gather the same kinds of information for education, research, and administration purposes.

In addition to performing duties specific to delivering health science information, these librarians are also charged with general tasks such as organizing and arranging information resources. These may include journals, texts, CD-ROMs, and electronic databases. Some health information science librarians may be expected to create their own electronic databases, websites, or other guides that help medical practitioners, patients, and students find the resources they need.

A health sciences information librarian may also use non-traditional resources to provide the same information. These may include tapes, pamphlets, multimedia presentations, and the Internet. Like general librarians, they can assist patrons in selecting book titles, journals, and audiovisual material. Cataloging and handling acquisitions are also some of the tasks that they perform on a daily basis.

Medicine and technology sometimes make major advances very quickly, so a health sciences information librarian is expected to stay on top of current medical developments. He or she may need to create up-to-date bibliographies regarding medical or health issues. In addition, a health sciences information librarian may take a hands-on approach and conduct research, create abstracts, and engage in publication writing. Since resources and documentation are important in the field, the librarian can find rare books or journals by accessing national networks that connect libraries around the country.

Health sciences information librarians are typically found in medical, nursing, or allied health school settings. They may also have jobs in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and even government agencies. Non-profit health organizations and health information centers may also decide to keep a health sciences information librarian on staff. Any private company participating in the medical industry may seek to employ one of these professionals.

To prepare for a career as a health sciences information librarian, a high school student can take courses in English, typing, math, and science. While earning an undergraduate degree, a student should make sure to take courses in science and computer science. Then, while he is working towards his graduate degree in library science, the student should study scientific literature, biomedical communication, library organization, bibliographic resource use, and management and cataloging systems. After graduation, both full- or part-time positions may be available.

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    • An old fashioned card catalog in a library.
      By: Andrey Kuzmin
      An old fashioned card catalog in a library.