17 Pages

Buoyed by a Rising Tide: Information Literacy Sails into the Curriculum on the Currents of Evidence-Based Medicine and Professional Competency Objectives: Richard B. Kaplan, Julia S. Whelan

SUMMARY. This paper discusses how the information literacy efforts at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) have been supported by national trends within health science education to incorporate evidence-based medicine and problem-based learning into the curriculum. In addition, both accreditation agencies and national commissions have published documents supporting information literacy education for health science students. These trends and mandates in academic medicine have re-enforced faculty and administration support. Unlike many college and university libraries, the librarians at MCPHS are now in the position of being asked to provide more instruction than they can support. Responses to this situation have included an increase in reference staff, change in emphasis from reference

services to teaching, learning and creating computer-based instruction programs, and enhanced collaboration and involvement with teaching faculty. The future, molded by these forces, holds the potential of offering librarians an opportunity to be key members of the evidence-based health care team; to allow librarians to adopt the same quantifiable research techniques into the practice of “evidence-based librarianship”; and to continue to boost information literacy efforts. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. E-mail address: <[email protected]> Website: <> © 2002 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.]

KEYWORDS. Information literacy, evidence-based medicine, pharmacy, medical libraries, health science libraries, instruction


Academic librarians have long debated and agonized over their role as teachers and their attempts at integrating library instruction into the curriculum. Some libraries are able to organize extensive instruction programs that are tied to a freshman experience program or one that covers the basics of research theory including online search concepts. More specific subject instruction is usually coordinated with a sympathetic faculty member, who graciously provides the librarian a class period for library instruction. Few libraries have been able to fully develop a comprehensive program that is fully integrated into the curriculum and offers required instruction throughout the degree program. Indeed, a survey of Canadian academic libraries in 2000 found that first year students are the focus of instruction at 84.6 percent of libraries.1 Sheppard Library at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has successfully implemented an information literacy program, which requires all students to take a mandatory series of modules that ultimately will coordinate with all years of the curriculum. This paper will discuss the development of this program and examine trends in health science education and accreditation standards that helped to contribute to a receptive environment that allowed the librarians to initiate a comprehensive information literacy program.