Send to

Choose Destination
J Med Libr Assoc. 2005 Jan;93(1):45-52.

State of the art of expert searching: results of a Medical Library Association survey.

Author information

National Network of Libraries of Medicine Greater Midwest Region University of Illinois at Chicago Library of the Health Sciences 1750 West Polk Street (M/C 763) Chicago, Illinois 60612-4330, USA.



Medical Library Association (MLA) members were surveyed to gather background about the current state of expert searching in institutions. The survey results were intended to guide the recommendations of the Task Force on Expert Searching for promoting the importance of expert searching and implementing those recommendations.


MLA members were surveyed, and data obtained from the survey were compiled and analyzed to answer three general questions: what is the perceived value of searching skills to the institution, how do health sciences librarians maintain and improve their searching skills, and how are searching services promoted and/or mandated in the institution.


There were 256 responses to the survey. Over 95% of the respondents saw their expert-searching skills were of value to their institutions, primarily through performing mediated searches and search consultations. Over 83% of the respondents believed that their searching skills had improved over the past 10 years. Most indicated that continued training was very important in maintaining and improving their skills. Respondents promoted searching services most frequently through orientations, brochures, and the libraries' Web pages. No respondent's institution mandated expert searching. Less than 2% of respondents' institutions had best practice guidelines related to expert searching, and only about 8% had guidelines or policies that identified situations where expert searching was recommended.


The survey supports the belief that health sciences librarians still play a valuable role in searching, particularly in answering questions about treatment options and in providing education. It also highlights the need for more expert searching courses. There has been minimal discussion about the perceived need for expert-searching guidelines in the institutions represented by survey respondents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center