Research engagement of health sciences librarians: a survey of research-related activities and attitudes


  • Susan Lessick MA, MLS, AHIP, FMLA, Distinguished Librarian and Librarian Emeritus, University of California, Irvine, 7468 East Calle Durango, Anaheim, CA 92808
  • Carol Perryman PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Texas Woman’s University, P.O. Box 425438, Stoddard Hall, Room 404, Denton, TX 76204-5438
  • Brooke L. Billman MA, AHIP, AZHIN and Special Projects Librarian, Arizona Health Sciences Library, University of Arizona, 1505 North Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724-5079
  • Kristine M. Alpi MLS, MPH, AHIP, Director, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Library of Veterinary Medicine, NCSU Libraries, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health & Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607
  • Sandra L. De Groote MLIS, AHIP, Scholarly Communications Librarian and Associate Professor, University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago, 801 South Morgan Street M/C 234, Chicago, IL 60607
  • Ted D. Babin Jr. Texas Woman’s University, P.O. Box 425438, Denton, TX 76204-5438



Libraries, Medical, Library Surveys, Research Report, Library Science Research


Introduction: The extent to which health sciences librarians are engaged in research is a little-studied question. This study assesses the research activities and attitudes of Medical Library Association (MLA) members, including the influence of work affiliation.

Methods: An online survey was designed using a combination of multiple-choice and open-ended questions and distributed to MLA members. Responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics, content analysis, and significance testing. The authors used statistical tools and categorized openended question topics by the constant comparative method, also applying the broad subject categories used in a prior study. Pearson’s chi-square analysis was performed on responses to determine significant differences among respondents employed in three different institutional environments.

Results: Analysis showed that 79% of respondents read research articles at least once a month; 58% applied published research studies to practice; 44% had conducted research; 62% reported acting on research had enhanced their libraries; 38% had presented findings; and 34% had authored research articles. Hospital librarians were significantly less likely than academic librarians to have participated in research activities. Highly ranked research benefits, barriers, and competencies of health sciences librarians are described.

Conclusions: Findings indicate that health sciences librarians are actively engaged in research activities. Practice implications for practitioners, publishers, and stakeholders are discussed. Results suggest that practitioners can use published research results and results from their own research to affect practice decisions and improve services. Future studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, including the need for intervention studies to increase research and writing productivity.






Special Paper