January 23, 2022

Article: “Social Justice and the Medical Librarian”

The article linked below was presented by the author at the “Janet Doe Lecture on the history or philosophy of medical librarianship, presented at MLA ’18, the 118th Annual Meeting Medical Library Association, Inc.; Atlanta, GA; May 18–23, 2018. Julia Sollenberger, AHIP, FMLA, the 2017 Janet Doe lecturer, gave the introduction.”

From the Journal of Medical Librarianship:


Social Justice and the Medical Librarian


Elaine Russo Martin, FMLA
Director of Library Services, Countway Library, Harvard Medical School


Journal of Medical Librarianship
Vol 107, No 3 (2019)
DOI: 10.5195/jmla.2019.712


This lecture discusses social justice and the role that medical librarians can play in a democratic society. Social justice needs to be central to the mission of medical librarianship and a core value of the profession. Medical librarians must develop a new professional orientation: one that focuses on cultural awareness or cultural consciousness that goes beyond ourselves and our collections to that which focuses on the users of our libraries. We must develop a commitment to addressing the issues of societal, relevant health information. Using examples from medical education, this lecture makes the case for social justice librarianship. This lecture also presents a pathway for social justice medical librarianship, identifies fundamental roles and activities in these areas, and offers strategies for individual librarians, the Medical Library Association, and library schools for developing social justice education and outcomes. The lecture advocates for an understanding of and connection to social justice responsibilities for the medical library profession and ends with a call to go beyond understanding to action.

The lecture emphasizes the lack of diversity in our profession and the importance of diversity and inclusion for achieving social justice. The lecture presents specific examples from some medical libraries to extend the social justice mindset and to direct outreach, collections, archives, and special collection services to expose previously hidden voices. If medical librarians are to remain relevant in the future, we must act to address the lack of diversity in our profession and use our information resources, spaces, and expertise to solve the relevant societal issues of today.

Direct to Full Text Article ||| PDF Version (13 pages)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.