Emerging roles of health information professionals for library and information science curriculum development: a scoping review

Jinxuan Ma, Lynne Stahl, Erica Knotts


Objective:This scoping review identified the emerging and evolving roles of health information professionals (HIPs) in a range of tasks and settings, as they adapt to varied user needs, while keeping up with changing medical landscapes to provide evidence-based information support in grand rounds and scholarly research. The review aims to inform library school students about expected entry-level job qualifications and faculty about adaptable changes to specialized HIP curricula.

Methods: The authors examined 268 peer-reviewed journal articles that concentrated on evolving HIP roles, professional settings, and contexts by retrieving results from several multidisciplinary databases.

Results: HIPs, who generally serve as “embedded librarians,” are taking on more active roles as collaborators, research experts, and liaisons, replacing more passive and exclusive roles as information providers and outreach agents or research assistants. These evolving roles in the reviewed literature were broken into nine categories in approximate order of prominence.

Conclusions: A new model linking these evolving roles to the Medical Library Association (MLA) fundamental professional competencies was developed to provide an operational examination and research-based evidence for adapting HIP continuing education curriculum learning outcomes, course content and delivery, and student career pathways for existing graduate HIP specialization courses in library programs. The model indicates each role’s connection to the MLA professional competencies, based on MLA’s detailed description of each competency. A better understanding of HIP demands and expectations will enhance the capacity of library programs to prepare students in HIP specializations.

 This article has been approved for the Medical Library Association’s Independent Reading Program.


Health Sciences Librarianship; Health Information Professionals; Graduate Library Curriculum; Code of Ethics; Professional Core Competency; Enabling Competency; Research-Based Evidence

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2018.354


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