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Consumer Health

Developing skills and knowledge of current trends in consumer health librarianship is essential to professional development. Attending professional association events offers librarians the opportunity to establish relationships with their colleagues. These relationships provide librarians with time to learn from one another and develop expertise in the field.

Network of the National Library of Medicine

The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) offers free training opportunities on consumer health. Each region of the NNLM has a training page where you may find information on dates and locations for classes. Many of the classes may be applied towards the Medical Library Association's Consumer Health Information Specialization. The NNLM website has links to each of the regional websites; click on your region to explore the offerings; you may also visit the staff directory to contact the consumer health coordinator in your region.


CAPHIS, the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association, offers many opportunities for librarians to learn more about consumer health librarianship.  There are continuing education classes offered both at the Medical Library Association's annual conference and on the regional level by the Consumer Health Information Coordinators of the Network of the National Library of Medicine and other approved continuing education instructors. CAPHIS has an active listserv, which provides librarians a communication vehicle to ask questions and respond to daily issues in the library including tricky reference questions and collection development issues. The CAPHIS site has collection development core lists which are a valuable tool for resource selection. The CAPHIS newsletter, Consumer Connections, is a source of book reviews and consumer health librarians' experiences in the field.

Medical Library Association

The Medical Library Association (MLA) offers a Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) to help librarians keep current in consumer health by providing access to new ideas and resources in the field. The CHIS helps librarians to develop expertise in the area of consumer health information. The credential has two levels:

  • Level one requires 12 credits of continuing education credits
  • Level two requires 24 credits in the area of consumer health.

According to the MLA website, "The goals of MLA's Consumer Health Information Specialization are to improve health information services for consumers, create partners in the delivery of consumer health information, and increase access to consumer health information courses."

Regional and State

Each regional chapter of the Medical Library Association has an annual conference with valuable opportunities to network with colleagues and also to attend professional development opportunities. Statewide medical library associations also have professional development opportunities for their members. These meetings are great for developing a network of colleagues in your local area.

In summary, the Medical Library Association, CAPHIS, your regional chapter of MLA, and the Network of the National Library of Medicine have many opportunities for you to cultivate your skills in consumer health. Of course, never underestimate the value of developing relationships with your colleagues. Your colleagues will prove to be one of the most valuable resources to your library and your professional development.