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Rena Machowa Lubker1, Donna Flake2, Carol Lefebvre3, Lenny Rhine4
1Medical University of South Carolina,
2North Carolina, US
3Lefebvre Associates Ltd, Oxford UK
4Co-ordinator, Librarians Without Borders® E-library Training Initiative
Librarians Without Borders (LWB), a US Medical Library Association Committee initiative, aims to form and strengthen co-operation among health sciences librarians worldwide for the purpose of providing health information to all. LWB strives for co-operation of library associations worldwide and for a structure that would enable medical librarians everywhere to benefit.
The vision of LWB includes the development of health information professionals globally, equity in access to health information and international collaborations between MLA and related associations worldwide including EAHIL.
Established in September 2009, seven members were nominated by the MLA President including a representative from the MLA International Co-operation Section (now International Co-operation Caucus) and a member programme co-ordinator of a related global programme (at the moment the co-ordinator of Research4Life grant), as well as the MLA Board liaison and MLA’s International Affairs Officer as staff liaison. Currently, the structure of LWB remains the same. The Committee makes recommendations to MLA for promoting health information worldwide.
LWB executes its mission as the global MLA ambassador through a number of initiatives; encouraging librarians from all over the world to come to the USA through the Cunningham scholarship and other scholarships; maintaining an Allied Representative programme including the role of MLA Allied Representatives (MLA ARs) through which LWB maintains bilateral agreements with ten international partners, including EAHIL. Allied Representatives are appointed by the MLA President-elect to serve as MLA representatives to these partnering organizations. Duties of MLA ARs include attending meetings of the sister organizations, making recommendations through the appropriate MLA committee for action to be taken by the board of directors concerning activities of mutual interest to the allied organization and MLA and to represent, interpret, and promote the interests of MLA. Together with the International Co-operation Caucus of MLA, LWB supports visiting international librarians. Bearing in mind that the ability of each nation to strengthen and build health sciences information capacity depends on qualified health sciences librarians, with supporting technological infrastructure, and with access to quality information, LWB supports training through the Elsevier Foundation / Research4Life grant.
Challenges and Lessons learned
Challenges to date include; sustainability of the international programmes; keeping bilateral agreements up to date; and staying in touch with and providing continuing support to MLA past Cunningham Fellows.
Conclusions Librarians Without Borders will continue to collaborate with other global health information organizations, including EAHIL, in the future and connect with new ones as and when opportunities arise.
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