European Medical Librarians Meet to Discuss Technology and Cooperation

Article excerpt

Just as economic and social barriers are being broken down in Europe, health sciences libraries are cooperating to foster communication, resource sharing, and technology applications. The _European Association for Health and Information Libraries (EAHL), which was formed six years ago, held its Third European Conference of Medical Libraries in Montpelier, France on September 23-26. Some 540 persons, representing 28 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as Africa, Australia, and the United States, attended.

Much like their colleagues in America, European health sciences librarians were most concerned about how libraries could be integrated into the new, expanding biomedical communications system. The meeting was developed around three themes: the changing world of information; new technologies for information transfer; and implications for biomedical communication and for libraries.

A European view of medical information (Franklin, Netherlands), focused on intellectual, technical, and financial strains. Franklin was especially concerned with the slow evolution of bioinformatics, citing that few in Europe were aware of its role in the information infrastructure. Valle (France) emphasized the importance of cooperation in information transfer and Fortney (U.S.) projected on management of health sciences libraries in the 21st century. Huth (U.S.), editor of the AAAS online Current Clinical Trials journal, argued that the fragmentation of medicine into specialities and the subsequent increase in journals called for an electronic solution. He cautioned, however, that the shift from paper will not be soon, and that there will be a transition phase in which both media are used.

It appears that medical library cooperation in Europe is a long way from cutting across national boundaries. Some twelve papers described the development of national systems, among them, East and West Germany (after unification), Croatia (as a small and new European entity), and Czechoslovakia (in need of a national network). More advanced networks were reported in the western European countries.

There was also great variation in the application of new technology. …