The State of Clinical Librarianship in Canada: a Review of the Literature, 1970–2013

Helen Halbert

Abstract


This paper examines the history of clinical librarianship in Canada from 1970 to 2013 as seen through the lens of practitioner narratives and published literature. While no reviews of clinical librarianship in Canada were found in the literature search, there were many project descriptions in articles and published reports that have provided insight into the field during its formative period in Canada from the 1970s. In addition to tracing narrative histories from 1970 to 2013, the author has continued to wonder why these important stories have never properly been told. Was it because the scope of clinical librarianship, its expected and embodied professional duties, was not regulated (as it is in the United States and United Kingdom)? Is it because the American Library Association accredited library schools in Canada do not offer appropriate curricula and professional training? It seems clear that some librarians in Canada were pioneers in the way that Gertrude Lamb was in the United States, but they did not call themselves clinical librarians. Consequently, they opted for more generic job titles such as medical librarian and health librarian. Whatever the reasons for this, it is within this framework that the author begins an exploration of clinical librarianship in Canada. The paper's aim is to provide a view into clinical librarianship in Canada back to the 1970s to ensure the story is properly told.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5596/c13-027

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