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J Med Libr Assoc. 2012 Apr;100(2):104-12. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.100.2.008.

Provision of pandemic disease information by health sciences librarians: a multisite comparative case series.

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  • 1Life Sciences Library, Third Floor, McIntyre Medical Building, McGill University, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, MontrĂ©al, QC H3G 1Y6, Canada.



The research provides an understanding of pandemic information needs and informs professional development initiatives for librarians in disaster medicine.


Utilizing a multisite, comparative case series design, the researchers conducted semi-structured interviews and examined supplementary materials in the form of organizational documents, correspondence, and websites to create a complete picture of each case. The rigor of the case series was ensured through data and investigator triangulation. Interview transcripts were coded using NVivo to identify common themes and points of comparison.


Comparison of the four cases revealed a distinct difference between "client-initiated" and "librarian-initiated" provision of pandemic information. Librarian-initiated projects utilized social software to "push" information, whereas client-initiated projects operated within patron-determined parameters to deliver information. Health care administrators were identified as a key audience for pandemic information, and news agencies were utilized as essential information sources. Librarians' skills at evaluating available information proved crucial for selecting best-quality evidence to support administrative decision making.


Qualitative analysis resulted in increased understanding of pandemic information needs and identified best practices for disseminating information during periods of high organizational stress caused by an influx of new cases of an unknown infectious disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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