Unit 5: Professional Development Resources

There is a wealth of materials available for students or professionals who want to learn more about medical librarianship or health in libraries. This list was created by the C4CH Advisory Board to point toward some materials to explore. Some of these are free and some are available only through membership. If you have additional items that you would like added, please email me: bossallerj at missouri.edu.


National Network of Libraries of Medicine – “The mission of the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) is to advance the progress of medicine and improve the public health by providing all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improving the public’s access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health. The Program is coordinated by the National Library of Medicine and carried out through a nationwide network of health science libraries and information centers.” As an arm of the government, they offer funding and many free educational opportunities for any librarian who wants to learn more about health librarianship, including the Consumer Health Information Specialization.

National Professional Associations:

American Library Association – ALA offers support and training for all librarians, but the ASCLA Consumer Health Information Librarians Interest Group is dedicated “to support those who serve users who seek reliable health and wellness information. This goal is to provide awareness of resources and networking opportunities for those who assist diverse populations to create a culture of health within their communities.”

Public Library AssociationHealth Literacy, Programming, and Consumer Health Information. PLA has a Health Interest Group and a Social Worker Interest Group, available for members.

Medical Library Association – “MLA offers professional and career development opportunities and resources for practicing health sciences librarians, recent graduates, nurses, and others. ” Much of the CE content is available only for members or for a fee, but note that they do have scholarships and grants available for students, as well as other funding for applicants across various fields. Note that MLA Chapters often have smaller conferences, webinars, and funding mechanisms.

Special Library Association – “The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners in business, government, academic, and other “specialized” settings. If you manage information and/or knowledge resources for organizations and their stakeholders—such as business executives, government agency staff, university faculty and students, association members, nonprofit funders, and law firm partners—SLA is your professional home!” (About Us, 2023). SLA does not offer consumer health information, but has some programming focusing on chemistry, health technology, and other subjects of interest within medical librarianship. Plus, they have great mixers and opportunities for students to become involved. Find out more about their continuing education opportunities here.

Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services – “The mission of the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services is to support and encourage library staff and leadership to provide quality bookmobile and outreach services to meet diverse community needs. We strive for inclusion and equity while working together to extend relevant and responsive services to individuals and groups who face barriers to library access.” Members of ABOS have access to many prerecorded webinars.

Training Platforms:

Check your state library association – many have interest groups devoted to health and/or medical information or librarianship. There are membership organizations and consortia that offer programs on demand as well. The following are widely available:

Webjunction – WebJunction is a freely available platform for public library continuing education. You just need to sign up for it. One program is “Health Happens in Libraries, a program that magnifies the role of public libraries as key contributors to community health. By supporting public library staff with resources to respond confidently to patron requests for health information, and tools to form intentional partnerships with local community health experts, Health Happens in Libraries enhances public library capacity to advance health and wellness priorities in the communities they serve. The formal program ended in June 2016, but the resources and materials continue to be available for anyone to use.” There are many other health- and equity-related resources available through the Course Catalog.

Coursera – Do you want more structure in your learning, with the possibility of earning credits that lead to a certificate (or maybe a degree) from a top university? Check out Coursera. A search for free courses that focused on health and data science yielded 449 results (the free courses don’t earn a certificate, but you can learn a lot anyway). You could likely use a lot of the courses to offer library programming as well – for instance, “Child Nutrition and Cooking” and “Food Sustainability, Mindful Eating, and Healthy Cooking” from Stanford might be a good basis for working with the public on healthy eating.

YouTube – Want to know how to do…anything? It’s likely that there’s a talk on YouTube. Don’t overlook this popular resource. A great place to start is with the NNLM Channel, which includes “Videos, Tutorials, and Webinars created by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine…to advance the progress of medicine and improve the public health by 1) providing all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information; and 2) improving the public’s access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.” Includes both English and Spanish videos.