An Interview with Barry Grant from the Medical Library Association

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

April 20, 2021

I recently had the opportunity to ask Barry Grant of the Medical Library Association (MLA) a few questions. For those of you who work in medical libraries, the health sciences, or other health information professions I hope this interview is beneficial. 

Lauren Hays: What is your role with MLA?

Barry Grant: I am the MLA Director of Education. 

Lauren Hays: How does MLA support education in medical libraries?

Barry Grant: We don’t support education in medical libraries. We support educating medical librarians! Education is not only a huge part of what MLA does, it defines what MLA is: MLA is an “educational organization.” 

MLA staff work with MLA members and others to create educational offerings and to make educational offerings from NNLM (Network of the National Library of Medicine) and many others available to medical librarians, health science librarians, and health information professionals in general.

This year, we will create 10 self-paced scenario-based courses, 18 webinars, and 8 instructor-led courses. We currently have a few hundred of MLA and other courses available through MEDLIB-ED, our LMS.

MLA is a member-driven organization. Staff work with members to develop courses and webinars. MLA members themselves, through interest groups, create free webinars and other offerings. 

And of course, MLA supports the education of health information professionals through our journal and annual conferences. I am sure I have forgotten other ways in which MLA supports educating medical librarians. 

Lauren Hays: What new learning needs do medical librarians have?

Barry Grant: The roles and responsibilities of health sciences librarians change with budgets, science, technology, and lots of other factors. Five years ago, MLA undertook a lengthy process to identify the Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success for health information professionals. All the offerings on MEDLIB-ED are tied to one or more competencies. This ensures that all of our courses help medical librarians build meaningful skills.   

Members with expertise vet proposed courses and webinars to ensure that offerings are relevant and important. Our recently launched Data Services Specialization addresses a growing need for librarians to assist researchers in data management and scholarly communication.

Lauren Hays: What education initiatives MLA does hope to accomplish in the next 12 months?

Barry Grant: I mentioned our plans for 2021 course creation. Next year will be similar. We are also in the process of creating or commissioning courses for a yet-to-be-launched Systematic Review Services Specialization and for the Advanced level of the Data Services Specialization.

Lauren Hays: If you could give one piece of advice to medical librarians, what would it be?

Barry Grant: I am not a medical librarian, so it would be presumptuous to give medical librarians advice. I can say, though, without risk of offense: If you are not a member of MLA, join! And if you are, take advantage of the many, many opportunities MLA offers to advance in and advance your profession.

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri. Please read her other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterpriseand GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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