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Three Emerging Trends for Medical Librarians

Time and technological innovation wait for no one! For medical librarians, technological innovation is presenting them with exciting opportunities. Softlink Information Centres believe they should consider the following three emerging trends. The trends are an opportunity to expand their role.

Fake News and Misleading Information

Although fake news, and misleading information, may seem like an overused buzz-phrase, it is a real, if not a modern problem. What is different is the advent of the internet. It has resulted in so many news, information sites, and social media platforms. The generation of fake news and misinformation is enormous, and it spreads instantly.

Websites provide endless opportunities for anybody to broadcast information. Often that information is based on opinion or belief, not fact.

It’s not just humans. Bots are contributing to much of this misinformation, sharing links and driving up website statistics. It is estimated they contribute to over 40% of internet traffic.

Assessing Information in the Public Domain

In an era of self-help, it is common for people to “find” information on the internet. But there is so much information, good and bad.

An increasing number of people are using Google© to self-diagnose and “treat” themselves. This can have serious implications. For the health sector, it is a significant cause for concern.

Many people do not know the difference between good or bad websites, or ones with an agenda. How do they know which site has the correct information?

The value of medical librarians in the public health area will be to counter misleading health information. Research is their core skill. They can identify and analyze misleading public information and work to counteract their influence. They can implement and market education programs to assist searchers in finding the right health information.

Data Mining for Information-seeking Behavior

Human-generated data is valuable to librarians. Mining and analyzing the data allows them to identify patterns. It will give them a more granular level of information.

For example, they can identify:

  • How patients approach specific healthcare topics online.
  • What search terms they use.
  • What sites their searches direct them to.

According to one study, medical librarians and healthcare professionals could use data mining to predict disease outbreaks. An example could be when there’s an upsurge of online queries about flu symptoms. It could indicate that an outbreak is imminent.

Medical librarians can also assist healthcare professionals in how patients relay information online. This will provide an insight into how people, without a medical background, have processed medical information.

Medical librarians will be crucial in the development of remedial processes. Ones that medically trained people can apply to combat adverse medical outcomes arising from misinformation or misunderstanding.

Social Media

People in every age group use social media. Many people use Facebook and Twitter. Medical librarians can use those platforms to spread the right information!

For millennials and post-millennials, Instagram is the current social media platform. Some educational libraries that have chosen to use Instagram project a friendly, online presence that draws their target audience closer.

Increasing your audience’s reach via social media platforms is necessary. Choose the ones most popular with a broad range of health library users. It is an excellent way to market information, the library, and services. They are easy to master. Making the posts engaging, fun, and informative is an opportunity to highlight the real value of medical librarians.


Everyone is reassessing and redefining their responsibilities in the face of rapid change. New trends continue to emerge that will impact their roles. For medical librarians, using their research skills, managing big data to discover valuable information, and using social media present them with opportunities.