News / IMLS Grant awarded to iSchool and Health Sciences Library System


The Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS) announced a grant for $991,311 to support the creation and implementation of a new degree program, “Post Master's Degree Certificate of Advanced Studies in Health Sciences Librarianship.” The program will be managed jointly by the iSchool and the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS). Students who have already earned their MLIS degree will undertake specialized preparation for professional positions in health sciences libraries through online coursework, an applied research project, mentoring experiences, and attendance at a national conference. The generous grant from IMLS will support the costs of curriculum development and evaluation, online course delivery infrastructure, and student recruitment. In addition, the grant will cover tuition costs for 27 students as they progress through this unique yearlong post-Master’s program. Students will be enrolled in the program beginning in May 2010.

There is an urgent need for information professionals with the skills to manage and provide access to the expanding amount of knowledge and resources in health care. As health care – and health care settings – grow more complex, a wide range of expertise and skills are needed by health librarians to meet the unique needs of users engaged in clinical care, research and education within the health disciplines.

The two institutions at the University of Pittsburgh have partnered to meet this critical need. The iSchool and HSLS will create a 15-credit Certificate of Advanced Study program that goes beyond the basics of librarianship to address such issues as evidence-based medicine, teaching and instruction in a health care setting, clinical librarianship, expert searching in medical resources, and integration of information resources in electronic health records. Both the iSchool and HSLS are ideally suited to foster this effort. The School has offered an online degree program since 2001; it also offers a Master’s-level specialization in Health Services and Resources, which is ranked #1 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Graduate School” rankings. The HSLS supports more than 55,000 faculty and medical staff/students in the University’s schools of the health sciences and at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. As the program will be offered online, it will enable librarians from more remote areas to participate – many health information professionals work in geographic regions without easy access to advanced educational programs such as this. Pitt is particularly well-suited to develop this program because it offers both a strong distance education program in library and information science and a major academic health sciences library system.

Students, who will be admitted in cohorts of 12-15, will complete the 15-credit program within one year. Courses will be offered asynchronously and will cover topics such as teaching/instruction within the health care setting, management of health sciences collections, and trends in health sciences information services. The online courses will be taught by HSLS librarians, who will incorporate their real-world experience into the 12 credits of coursework. Students will also plan and complete a 3-credit applied research project at their home institution under the aegis of a professional mentor. The curriculum and learning experiences will be developed by faculty from the iSchool, HSLS librarians, and a national advisory board composed of educators and health librarians. The project will have four coordinators: Barbara A. Epstein, HSLS Director; Nancy H. Tannery, HSLS Associate Director for User Services; Chris Tomer, Associate Professor, the iSchool; and Susan W. Alman, Director of Distance Education and Outreach, the iSchool. Ester Saghafi, as project manager, will oversee the progress of the program, and serve as a liaison among the partnering organizations.

Students or organizations interested in learning more about this health sciences librarianship program should contact Susan W. Alman, Director of Distance Education and Outreach at the School of Information Sciences. She can be reached at 412-624-5142 or