Chronology

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History of Medical/Health Libraries Groups in Australia.

At the Meeting of University Medical Librarians, Medical Library, University of Sydney, 10.00 am, 27th August, 1971 which was held during the LAA Conference in August 1971, the main agenda items were:

  1. AACOBS Sub-Committee on Medical Library Services
  2. MEDLARS and Australian MEDLARS Service
  3. Form of Proposed Medical Librarians' Group - "agreed that a strenuous effort should be made to form a genuinely national group"

The aims of the group were:

  1. to promote the work of medical libraries
  2. to improve liaison between medical librarians
  3. to further education for medical librarianship

A National Steering Committee was constituted to plan a Medical Librarians' Group with State branches. Convenors will rotate every two years co-terminous with the biennial LAA Conference therefore the national centre for the current year should be Melbourne. Mrs Jacqueline Baillie (Biomedical Librarian, Monash University) and Miss Anne Harrison (Chief Librarian, Brownless Medical Library, University of Melbourne) were appointed joint convenors.

On 8th April 1974 there was a proposal for a National Organisation of Medical Library Groups. Members of the Group met during the 1975 Library Association Conference at a symposium organised by the Victorian Branch.

Archival documents

Original documents are stored in ALIA House, Canberra, in a folder named Chronology.

Timeline

A timeline of events is provided in the table below.

YearMonthDay Description
19710827 Minutes - Meeting of University Medical Librarians, Medical Library, University of Sydney, 10.00am, 27th August, 1971 - held during the LAA Conference in August 1971.

Main agenda items:
1. AACOBS Sub-Committee on Medical Library Services
2. MEDLARS and Australian MEDLARS Service
3. Form of Proposed Medical Librarians' Group - "agreed that a strenuous effort should be made to form a genuinely national group"

Aims:
a) to promote the work of medical libraries
b) to improve liaison between medical librarians
c) to further education for medical librarianship

A National Steering Committee was constituted to plan a Medical Librarians' Group with State branches. Convenors will rotate every two years co-terminous with the biennial LAA Conference therefore the national centre for the current year should be Melbourne. Mrs Jacqueline Baillie (Biomedical Librarian, Monash University) and Miss Anne Harrison (Chief Librarian, Brownless Medical Library, University of Melbourne) were appointed joint convenors.
19710909 George Franki, Biomedical Librarian, University of New South Wales, wrote to NSW colleagues to inform them of that initial meeting and that "university medical librarians in each capital city except Hobart" will invite medical librarians to a meeting.
19711123 Miss Anne Harrison wrote to Victorian colleagues to inform them of that initial meeting and to invite them to a meeting to discuss the formation of a Victorian branch (To be held on Tuesday 23rd November 1971).
Pat Nakouz, Librarian, Australian Medical Association (Victorian Branch), 18th November 1971, accepted the invitation to attend the meeting, endorsed the setting up of the group, and suggested issues for future discussion: having a tour of CMLO, a course for medical librarians, doctor's impressions of their Medline results, nurse-led lectures in medicine).
Anne replied to each of Pat's points on 25th November 1971 as she was unable to speak directly at the Meeting. Anne finished the letter by writing: I thought the meeting was a very good start, and hope we can get it going in all states and keep it alive and productive.
19720215 Medical Librarians' Group (Victorian Branch). Melbourne meeting co-convened by Fay Baker (Monash Medical School, Alfred Hospital) and Enid Meldrum (Alfred Hospital). The first meeting was held at Brownless Medical Library on 15th Feb 1972. This included a tour with special emphasis on the work of the Central Medical Library Organization, including the union list, overseas photocopying requests, and exchange programmes.
19731107 Enid Meldrum wrote to Marion Rock, Librarian, Austin Hospital, inviting Marion to co-convene with Val Strantzen as Enid and Fay had completed two years. Enid noted the convenience of sharing with a colleague nearby as she had done with Fay and that Val was willing. Enid wrote very persuasively "Do think it over. Please just don't say no quickly! After all, it need only be for 12 months, and that only means four meetings"
1973 Medical libraries in Australia - notes compiled for Mrs L. Symes
This is a three page history of medical libraries in Australia and the setting up of medical schools.
Up to the 1950s the existing medical schools were in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. After that new schools were established in NSW, Vic, Tas and SA.
1. No formal co-operation between medical libraries. There exists small co-operation at Vic state level via CMLO.
2. Many libraries are staffed by people with little or no training. There is no course specific to medical librarianship.
3. No minimum standards - services depend on the training and experience of staff.
4. Types of libraries have extended from universities/colleges/research institutions to teaching/non-teaching hospitals, medical societies, paramedical institutions and drug companies. There is no mention of nursing libraries here.
5. MEDLARS has been available via the National Library of Australia since 1970 without charge. Planning to introduce Medline will help all libraries but increases the document delivery load on university libraries as more resources are needed to supplement services.
6. Medical librarians have no formal connection with international associations. The future depends on funding, training and standards. We need a national collection to support the developing EDP (does this mean Electronic Data Processing but it is not stated?) services. We need to subsidize regional libraries. Hospital libraries need more stock, equipment, higher standards, and salary awards tied to some equivalent scale (later tied to Allied Health eg Physiotherapy). The implementation of the STISEC Report would help to meet these needs.
19740408 National Organization of Medical Librarians' Group
This is a one page document by Jacqueline Baillie. It outlines the present position that Medical Librarians' Groups exist in ACT, NSW, VIC, WA & SA and notes that, due to the phasing out of the AACOBS Subcommittee on Medical Library Services, we need a national body.
Form of National "Council" - The proposal is for two year terms to align with LAA biennial conferences. Do we need a national body? If so, how should it be set up? JB wants comments from the Victorian Group before speaking to the NSW Group on 30th May 1974.
19740524 JB summarized the meeting to the NSW Group on 20th May 1974. She attached a letter dated 24/5/1974 which was sent to the Medical Librarians' Groups in WA, SA, ACT stating that resresentatives from NSW and VIC have already been nominated. She expressed the need to finance a travelling fund to assist members to meet once a year (and alternate year at biennial LAA conference).
19740830 Response from Judith Lloyd, Medical Librarian, University of Adelaide, SA, asking if we are to affiliate with LAA or remain independent? If the former there will be a problem because not all medical librarians are LAA members.
19740916 Reply from Miss Amy Bush (St Vincent's Hospital) as Victorian representative states that as there are three state representatives now - NSW, ACT and VIC - things are moving and as soon as the other states form groups we can become established at a national level. In this case the original national convenors would be superceded and that we will need to think in terms of the projected national "council". The Special Libraries Section and the Law Librarians' Group both started out independently and only affiliated with LAA once they were established.
Victoria has 40 libraries and 55 members from university, college, hospital, society and commercial libraries: holds quarterly meetings with speakers, workshops, library visits.
19740918 Marion Rock replied to JB's letter and advises not to expect to seek affiliation if it means that all members would have to also be LAA members. She also gives statistics about Victorian libraries: 40 libraries, about 55-60 members, 20-30 attend quarterly meetings. The libraries comprise universities and colleges (8), hospitals (20), medical societies (3), research institutes (2), commercial firms (4), government departments (4). About half of these are LAA members.
19741202 From a submission to ALBIS by George Franki we learn that the total membership is approximately 100. There is more on this submission in the Medline section.
197507 Val Strantzen and Marion Rock hand reins over to Sandra Russell (Chairman), Kerry Christenson (Vice-Chairman) and Heather McDonald (Secretary) - new format for Victoria instead of co-convenors.
197508 Inaugural meeting of MLG National Council was held. Amy Bush is Victorian representative but Fay Baker attended as her proxy.
19751113 Medical Librarians' Group (Victoria). Australian Medical Librarians' Group Council: Constitution as amended by Medical Librarians' Group (Victoria), 13th November, 1975.
19751212 At the farewell dinner for Jacqueline Baillie, Biomedical Librarian, Monash University, Miss Anne Harrison congratulated her on her achievements and expressed the MLG's best wishes for her retirement. Medical librarians will miss her outstanding abilities as a leader and innovator. [Medical librarians honour Mrs Jac. Baillie, Australian Special Libraries News, 9(2) June 1976. p. 40]
19770828 The AMLG National Council met on 28th August 1977 during the 19th LAA Biennial Conference and produced the Australian Medical Librarians' Groups National Council. Amended Constitution, 28.8.77.
19771115 Report to MLG (Vic) on the meeting of the Australian Medical Librarians' Groups National Council, Hobart, 28th August, 1977. Although five clauses were amended it draws attention to Clauses 1 and 7. George Franki volunteered to continue to compile the national newsletter. The new National Convenor is Shirley Lecki, Department of Health, Canberra, as the next LAA conference will be in Canberra in 1979.
19800310 Letter from Jane Oliver, Secretary, MLG (Vic) to Jay King, Medical Librarian, Darwin Hospital, NT, inviting her to sign a petition to form a national medical librarians section within the LAA.
19800320 Jay King's response - This is the only medical library in Darwin and she is the only professional member employed in it. She is happy to sign the petition and glad the decision was taken not to form a separate association outside of the LAA. She also recommended sending the petition to Mr Peter Ralph, Medical Librarian, Alice Springs Hospital.
19800627 Letter from Paul Hodgson (ACT MLG) to John Holgate (Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington, NSW) regarding Victoria's petition to join the LAA - asks for time during the upcoming Sydney conference to discuss/debate the pros/cons.
19800627 Letter from Paul Hodgson (NLA on behalf of the ACT Group) to Jane Oliver, Secretary, MLG (Vic) stating that he has written to John Holgate (Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington, NSW) to prefer to discuss/debate further in Sydney.
19800919 Letter from Paul Hodgson (ACT MLG) to W. D. Richardson (President, LAA) that the ACT Group felt that the success of the petition from Victoria and another state to form a national group of the LAA was premature. Not all the states had signed the petition and it had been agreed the more discussions were to take place in Sydney in January 1981.
19810518 Letter from Anne Harrison to welcome members to the LAA Medical Librarians' Section and invite them to nominate for President, Secretary/Treasurer, and three Committee Member positions.
19810722 Inaugural meeting of the National Medical Librarians' Section, LAA, in Sydney
19811018 Letter from John Holgate, Secretary, Medical Librarians Section, LAA to General Secretary, General Council, LAA regarding the agreement to form Sectional Groups in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
19820118 Letter from Sue Phillips, Executive Assistant, LAA to John Holgate, Secretary, LAA Medical Librarians Section, advising that General Council approved the formation of the New South Wales, South Australian, Victorian and Western Australian Groups of the Medical Librarians Section.
19820212 Joan Martin, President, wrote to Lindsay Edwards, Manager, thanking him for offering facilities to host the inaugural meeting of the Victorian Group of the LAA Medical Librarians' Section which will be held on 25th February 1982 at Medishield Ramsay Bookshop. In addition to refreshments she asked for a slide projector and an overhead projector and offered to bring these if theywere not already available.
19820224 Noted in the LAA MLS Newsletter No. 1 dated 24th February 1982:
Inception of NSW MLS in June 1981, President: Brenda Heagney
As at 1st February 1982 the total national membership is 199
There are four sectional groups - NSW, VIC, WA, SA
Rotation - 2 yearly - to coincide with the LAA biennial conference
19820310 Joan Martin, President, wrote to Paul Hodgson, Principal Librarian, Life Sciences Section, National Library of Australia, to offer thanks for his frank talk that "admirably met our needs for information at this time". It was an auspicious start to what we hope will be an inaugural year from which all members can derive some gain.
19820312 Joan Martin, President, wrote to Lindsay Edwards, Manager, thanking him and his colleagues for graciously and attentively ministering to our needs at our inaugural event.
198204 Published in MLA News, no. 144, April 1982, p. 6: Victoria (Australia) Medical Librarians - You can't keep a good group down! The Medical Librarians' Group (Victoria) has emerged as a section of LAA.
19830919 Minutes of the LAA Medical Librarians' Section General Meeting, Perth include the results of a survey to change the name of the Section. Alternatives were Medical Libraries Section, Medical & Health Libraries Section, Health Libraries Section, and Health Sciences Libraries Section. The results were respectively 48, 5, 8, 8 and 3 for keeping the existing name. Therefore the Section will be known as the Medical Libraries Section.
1984 Western Australia and the ACT still have Medical Librarians' Groups
19960924 Cheryl Hamill, Acting National President, ALIA Health Libraries Section, faxed all State and National Groups and Specials and Law Groups to survey their views on the rotation schedule of the Specials, Health & Law Librarians Conferences which had been held every 2 years in Australia. She summarised the schedule since 1985 and explained that the Health Libraries Section is considering putting in a bid to host the 2005 International Medical Librarians' Congress, which is held every 5 years, and wants to avoid clashes with the Specials Conference.
199810 National Training Seminar for the Cochrane Library, Adelaide, SA, Anne Harrison Award Application (dated April 1998) for training interstate librarians who will then disseminate these skills in their respective areas.

This submission was successful and with some extra funding courtesy of Greg Fowler, who was then working as a project officer with the SA Health Commission, the national two day seminar in collaboration with the Cochrane Centre was held in October 1998. The outcome is reported in the President's Report (AGM SA Pres 199811).

This was the very first seminar on evidence based practice ever organised for Australian health librarians and was effectively the genesis of evidence based practice as part of the professional practice of Australian health librarians. It was a significant achievement for the state group. (Email from Lindsay Harris to Veronica Delafosse 29th April 2016).

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