The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries' Collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges, Medical Library Association, and Other Organizations

Article excerpt

The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries has made collaboration with other organizations a fundamental success strategy throughout its twenty-five year history. From the beginning its relationships with Association of American Medical Colleges and with the Medical Library Association have shaped its mission and influenced its success at promoting academic health sciences libraries' roles in their institutions. This article describes and evaluates those relationships. It also describes evolving relationships with other organizations including the National Library of Medicine and the Association of Research Libraries.


In many ways, the achievements of the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) over its first twenty-five years of existence are nothing short of remarkable considering its small membership and budget. From its inception, AAHSL faced significant challenges. Not all academic health sciences library directors were convinced in 1978 of the efficacy of creating a new association to promote the common interests of their libraries, separate from the broader mission of the larger Medical Library Association (MLA). And the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), with whom AAHSL sought to affiliate, had no means to accommodate a new organization that was not a scientific society. These challenges have been overcome, and AAHSL has succeeded as an independent association whose success is all the more notable because of the strong platform of collaboration with other organizations upon which it rests.

AAHSL's leaders expressed interest from the outset in collaboration with the AAMC as the means to influence improvements in medical education. While eventually achieving its initial goal of acceptance into the AAMC Council of Academic Societies, AAHSL has gone on to foster additional relationships with the AAMC organization where common interests are served in the areas of medical education, information technology and resources, and governmental relations. AAHSL's leadership also has consistently supported shared agendas with the Medical Library Association (MLA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Within the past decade, AAHSL and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have joined forces to advance legislative interests, leadership development initiatives, and library assessment projects.

AAHSL has demonstrated successful collaboration with these and other agencies because of several key factors:

* it has credibility as the organization that speaks for academic health sciences libraries and their importance in academic health centers in the United States and Canada;

* it has a proven track record through high-impact projects that have contributed to improved libraries, including developing planning and evaluation guidelines, assessing the value of libraries in the accreditation of medical schools, pursuing legislative advocacy, and publishing annual library statistics; and

* it actively seeks collaborative relationships that can help accomplish shared goals while maintaining its independent programs.

These factors were part of the original vision that guided AAHSL's founders, and these factors remain important today.


The most significant evidence of AAHSL's success at collaboration is with the AAMC.

Council of Academic Societies (CAS) affiliation

One of the primary arguments for organizing a new association of academic health sciences library directors was to strengthen the libraries by increasing their participation in national efforts to improve medical education. The direct linkage with the AAMC was cast when the initial letters of invitation were sent to directors of the primary libraries serving U.S. medical schools that were members of the AAMC [I].

In its inaugural year, AAHSL's initial application for membership in AAMC's Council of Academic Societies (CAS) was not approved. …