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The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries' Legislative Activities and the Joint Medical Library Association/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries Legislative Task Force

By Zenan, Joan S. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, April 2003 | Go to article overview

The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries' Legislative Activities and the Joint Medical Library Association/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries Legislative Task Force


Zenan, Joan S., Journal of the Medical Library Association


The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries' (AAHSL's) involvement in national legislative activities and other advocacy initiatives has evolved and matured over the last twenty-five years. Some activities conducted by the Medical Library Association's (MLA's) Legislative Committee from 1976 to 1984 are highlighted to show the evolution of MLA's and AAHSL's interests in collaborating on national legislative issues, which resulted in an agreement to form a joint legislative task force. The history, work, challenges, and accomplishments of the Joint MLA/AAHSL Legislative Task Force, formed in 1985, are discussed.

INTRODUCTION

The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries' (AAHSL) Organizing Committee-Gerald Oppenheimer, Samuel Hitt, Glenn Brudvig, Peter Stangl, and Nina Matheson-clearly perceived the need for timely involvement in influencing current legislation affecting academic health sciences libraries. The education of Congress and government agency administrators about academic health sciences libraries was a legislative priority for AAHSL's founders. Their goal was to support legislation that bolstered academic health sciences libraries' abilities to provide better and more services to their institutions.

ASSOCIATION OF ACADEMIC HEALTH SCIENCES LIBRARIES' (AAHSL's) LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES, 1977-1984

From AAHSL's inception, its founders recognized that involvement in the legislative process at the national level was very important to the association and its members. Meetings with the National Library of Medicine's (NLM's) leadership and the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC's) representatives, as well as continuing participation in the Medical Library Association's (MLA's) legislative activities, were among their early endeavors to put forward the association's legislative agenda.

An early example of working to influence government agency programs occurred at the November 1979 AAHSL annual meeting. NLM's Joseph Leiter, Ph.D., gave a presentation to the membership and engaged in a lively discussion concerning the development of MEDLARS III. The association's members were given the opportunity to influence its development through formal comments synthesized by James Williams, chair of the Committee on Information Control and Technology, and forwarded in a letter to Dr. Leiter before year-end [I].

AAHSL President Robin LeSueur wrote about lobbying for the Medical Library Assistance Act (MLAA) in his 1980/81 annual report,

Other soul searching centers around AAHSLD's relationship with and role with regard to the NLM and the MLA. There was a merger of these two directions, in a sense, during the intensive lobbying in the early months of 1981 for the life of the MLAA. The most extraordinary organization of the voice of health sciences librarianship achieved by Mary Horres of Chapel Hill, chairperson of the 1980/81 MLA Legislative Committee, with the assistance of incoming Chairperson Raymond Palmer of Wright State University, will long live in the political annals. Significant factors in the rapid dissemination of the wealth of timely information and lucid instructions Horres and Palmer compiled were their use of three national, complementary groups of health sciences librarians: [Regional Medical Library] (RML) directors, MLA regional legislative committees, and AAHSLD members. [2]

In late 1981, the question was raised as to whether AAHSL needed to designate an individual as a legislation liaison. The Board of Directors decided that "a separate one was not needed as the area was being handled already by MLA. Any necessary activity would be handled by the AAHSLD president" [3].

As AAHSL began to mature, it became quite clear that a single legislative liaison, president or member, could not shoulder unassisted a legislative agenda of any magnitude. The November 1982 board meeting minutes reported:

The question of whether or not AAHSLD should establish a Legislation Committee was discussed.

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