Questions of life and death – a new report into the value of health libraries and information services

Health Libraries Inc (HLI) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) have produced a joint report, Questions of life and death, describing the value of health library and information services in Australia.

The report is based on surveys carried out in August/September 2012, with responses from 250 library staff and users across the nation. The report shows how people use health library and information services and the impact this has on their work and study. Library and information service users were asked how they believed their use of the service over the last year had helped them.

95% said it had helped them progress their studies
95% said it helped them discover new and valuable information
86% said it helped keep them abreast of the latest clinical developments
83% said it had helped them improve health outcomes for their patients
82% said it helped them progress their research
76% said it had changed their thinking and improved their diagnosis or treatment plan
76% said it had helped them achieve higher marks in their exams
65% said it had helped them confirm their diagnosis or treatment plan

HLI and ALIA will be using the report to advocate for renewed investment in health libraries and information services. The survey results showed that despite a significant increase in users, print and e-resource budgets, staffing levels and floor areas have declined and there is little prospect of improvement in 2013. Key issues included:

  • Reduction in staff hours having a detrimental effect on the delivery of services
  • Lack of budget for essential print and e-resources
  • Visibility of the service in the digital environment
  • Continuing need for print collections
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Lack of understanding about the value of the service at senior level

A copy of the full report can be downloaded from the HLI and ALIA websites.


For more information, Laura Foley, HLI, 03 8517 5305 and Sue McKerracher, ALIA 0404 456 749.

Tuesday 13 November 2012 9:30am

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