gms | German Medical Science

Annual Meeting of the German MLA (AGMB)

10. - 12.09.2018, Oldenburg

Medical libraries of the future in a European perspective: the activities of EAHIL (European Association for Health Information and Libraries)

Meeting Abstract

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  • Maurella Della Seta - Istituto Superiore di Sanità (National Institute of Health), Rome, Italy

Arbeitsgemeinschaft für medizinisches Bibliothekswesen (AGMB). Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für medizinisches Bibliothekswesen (AGMB). Oldenburg, 10.-12.09.2018. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2018. Doc18agmb10

doi: 10.3205/18agmb10, urn:nbn:de:0183-18agmb102

Published: September 3, 2018

© 2018 Della Seta.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



The purpose of this presentation is to highlight the history, the vision, the organization, and the activities of EAHIL, the European Association for Health Information and Libraries, with special focus on the challenges and competencies required to a medical librarian in a rapidly changing scenario.

In December 1984, a group of health librarians first discussed plans to initiate contacts with their colleagues in other European countries. During the Fifth International Congress of Medical Librarianship in 1985, Tokyo, 26 European colleagues met to discuss place and date of a first conference, which was to gather health information officers and librarians from all countries of Europe. The meeting concluded with the decision to hold such a conference in Brussels a year later. In 1987 EAHIL was born, thus celebrating its 30th anniversary last year.

The vision of EAHIL is to contribute to the health and welfare of European citizens by promoting high-quality information services in support of health care practice, research, and education throughout Europe. EAHIL aims to improve library services to the health professions by cooperation and shared experience across national boundaries. Since 1987, EAHIL organised 15 conferences and 9 workshops throughout Europe.

The EAHIL Executive Board meets twice a year, usually in February and during the summer EAHIL events. The EAHIL Council is an advisory group for the Board and acts as a link between the members in their country and the Association. Council members also have an important role in spreading information about EAHIL and recruiting new members. JEAHIL is the quarterly Journal of the Association. It is published online and freely available on the EAHIL website (

The Association enrolled many medical librarians in different workgroups. These special interest groups gather colleagues interested in specific topics, such as for instance, the use of Medical Subject Headings and their translation in various European languages. Two new subgroups were recently established:

  • The Evaluation and Metrics group brings together and connects all members who are interested in research impact and its measurement.
  • The Training, Education and Development for Medical and Health Information Specialists and Librarians (TrEDMIL) group aims at serving as a forum in the areas of competencies, and continuing professional development

Since the founding of EAHIL, the focus of the association was cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experience. Over the years, EAHIL developed an extensive continuing education program, reflecting the changes in information technology and clinical practice, and the changing roles of Medical Librarians. During the Workshops, gradually, more interactive sessions are taking place, including hands-on practices, walk-and-talk and empowerment sessions. One of the reasons for alternating between the conferences and the workshop formats is that interactive and instructional sessions facilitate and support the spread of knowledge. Moreover, EAHIL has recently set up a webinar-based pilot continuing education program, open to all EAHIL members.

Note: The author is Director of Documentation Service at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the Italian National Institute of Health and President of the EAHIL.