So, What Does It Mean to Be a Regional Medical Library?

In the June 2011 HSLS Update, we announced that HSLS was awarded a five-year contract from the National Library of Medicine to serve as the Regional Medical Library (RML) for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NN/LM-MAR). We have been working diligently to set up our program and recruit qualified staff. But what does it mean to be a regional medical library?

Our role is to support the efforts of the National Library of Medicine for this region to provide all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improve the public’s access to information so they can make informed decisions about their health.

To accomplish this, our collaborative team of librarians will form partnerships with libraries and other organizations, and offer a variety of in-person and online training for health professionals, community organizations, health information centers, and public, hospital and academic medical libraries throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and New Jersey. Additionally, we will fund awards to assist regional libraries and information centers to educate and support unaffiliated health professionals and consumers in their local areas.

As an RML, our outreach efforts are directed toward libraries, health professionals and consumers. Throughout the five-year contract, our role is to develop, fund and manage a variety of outreach awards, ranging from $2,500-$30,000, that support programs to:

  • Promote the changing role of librarians within their institutions and communities;
  • Provide access to biomedical information to unaffiliated health professionals, including behavioral and mental health professionals, the public health workforce, minority health workers and rural, underserved hospitals;
  • Improve health through access to reliable information for consumer groups, including soldiers, veterans and their families, senior citizens, caregivers, K-12 schools, community-based and faith-based organizations.

Being an RML requires a commitment to continually evaluate the needs of those in our region, and adapt and develop programs to address those needs. It takes a dedicated staff and the support of a strong institution in order to succeed. Stay tuned for future updates and an introduction to the MAR staff.

~ Renae Barger