October is a month full of recognition, but did you know that October is National Medical Librarians Month? This month is a time to highlight the importance of these librarians to healthcare research, education, and patient care.
Here is a crash course on the history of medical librarians and the ways medical librarians support researchers:
1. As stated in the book Bulletin of the Medical Library Association: Volumes 1-6, during the time of the great philosophers, philosophy and medicine were thought to be one and the same. Since they were so integrated, Greek and Roman philosophy books make up most of the early literature in our medical libraries.
2. Before the invention of the printing press, books and medical manuscripts were limited and could only be reproduced largely by rewriting them word for word. Therefore, our knowledge of medicine and medical advances did not take root until the printing press was introduced and we were able to provide mass-produced books to medical libraries and universities. (Bulletin)
3. The first medical library is purported to be the library of the Faculté de la Médecine of Paris sometime in the middle ages. In 1395, they only had 12 books in their collection. As for the United States, the first medical library established was the library of Pennsylvania Hospital, which was gifted one book in 1762 for the start of its collection. By the end of the 18th Century, a total of eight medical libraries had been established in the U.S. (Bulletin)
4. In a clinical setting, medical librarians play an integral part in patient care and research. They save medical professionals valuable time and money by using their expert-level search skills to retrieve hard-to-find information within library databases.
5. The Medical Library Association (MLA) was founded in 1898 by four librarians and four physicians to unite medical professionals with the most trusted information. Today the organization stands as the largest and second oldest library association.
6. Through your local library, you most likely have access to specialized medical databases, such as the ProQuest Hospital Collection. These databases give you access to reliable and vetted information across many medical subject areas. If you are struggling with too much information, ask your librarian for help.
7. Many medical librarians include teaching as one of their many talents. According to Sandra Wood author of Health Sciences Librarianship, librarians are becoming more involved in patient education committees, a tool many hospitals are using to improve health literacy.
8. If you decide to surf the web alone for medical information, the medical librarians from the Medical Library Association (along with the PewResearch Internet Project) put together this article with three simple tasks to help you ensure your information is credible.