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


  • Jinxuan Ma School of Library and Information Management, Emporia State University, Campus Box 4025, 1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, KS 66801
  • Lynne Stahl Downtown Campus Library, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6069, 1549 University Avenue, Morgantown, WV 25606
  • Erica Knotts Communication Instructor, Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, OR 97504




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


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.

Author Biographies

Jinxuan Ma, School of Library and Information Management, Emporia State University, Campus Box 4025, 1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, KS 66801

Jinxuan Ma is an assistant professor in School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Information Studies from Florida State University. Her research and teaching interests focus on health information literacy, health information-seeking behavior, and health information technology applications. 

Lynne Stahl, Downtown Campus Library, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6069, 1549 University Avenue, Morgantown, WV 25606

 Lynne Stahl is a graduate research assistant in School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University, where she is pursuing an M.L.S. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Cornell University. Her research interests include the digital humanities, gender and sexuality studies, and critical librarianship 

Erica Knotts, Communication Instructor, Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, OR 97504

Erica Knotts is a former graduate research assistant in School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University, where she has received her M.L.S. She is working as a communication studies instructor at Southern Oregon University.


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