RSS: Health and Medical Reference Committee (on hiatus)


The purpose of the Health and Medical Reference Committee (HMRC) is to support the specialized needs of library staff who answer health-related reference questions in a variety of settings, including, but not limited to, public libraries, academic libraries, health care institutions, and special libraries. The HMRC seeks to provide educational opportunities focusing on health and medical reference in RUSA and ALA venues, both online and in person. Topics that the committee will address include legal and ethical issues, resource evaluation, health literacy, cultural differences, library programming, and health reference interview skills. This committee takes responsibility for maintaining the Health and Medical Reference Guidelines developed by this committee in 2015:


Melissa Vanyek (Staff Liaison, October 18, 2018, to December 31, 2099)

Displaying active committee roster as of 07/15/2019. Last retrieved on 07/15/2019. Members can log in to view full contact information for committee members.


Providing Consumer Health Reference Service

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) has a lot of good information that is freely available for you when providing a health reference service. Consumer Health Reference Interview and Ethical Issues provides tips to keep in mind.

  • An introduction to understanding Health Literacy culturally, socioeconomically as well as other factors is explained on this page from the National Network of Libraries Medicine.
  • Evaluating Health Websites provides criteria to assist in know which websites are reliable sources for health information to include on your website as well as to gude your patrons.

The Medical Library Association includes a section for health consumers and patients which can also be used by library staff to gain some basic understanding of health information.

Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library: A Consumer Health Toolkit for Library Staff, 2nd ed., published in 2013, is an excellent resource to begin a health reference service and can be freely downloaded and printed.

Accompanying video (1 hour)

Consumer Health Resources

National Library of Medicine Health Information resources

Medical Library Association Top Health Websites for Consumers and Patients

Listed below are just a few of the highly recommended resources for consumers you may find helpful.

Health Professional Resources

 Multi-Language and Multi-Cultural Materials

Hospital and Health Ratings

Webinars and online CE

Classes and webinars can provide an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge to help you feel more confident in providing health information at your library.

Reference Training (PowerPoint: click to download)

Find us in Connect

Find this committee in ALA Connect (log-in required):

Get Involved

ALA values committed and active committee members. Qualified members are welcome to volunteer to serve on the committee. Committee members must have an interest in the work of the committee; be able to attend Annual Conferences and Midwinter Meetings to participate in the meetings and activities of the committee; and be able to work between conferences via e-mail and ALA Connect. Express your interest in serving on this or other committees by filling out an application form. Appointments take place once a year, during the spring. Committee service usually begins following Annual Conference, about July 1.

Staff Liaison

Ninah Moore

Training and Events Coordinator