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Health Sciences Librarians in the Field: Pioneers for LGBTQ+ Health


Health science librarians occupy a unique place in librarianship, guiding healthcare professionals and the public to quality sources of medical research and consumer health information in order to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. A broader impact of health sciences librarianship is its advocacy for improvements in public health. In recent years, health science librarians have been actively involved in advocating for adequate, responsive, and culturally competent health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals. Health sciences librarians have advocated for LGBTQ+ individuals through a variety of specialized outreach projects to address health disparities found in the LGBTQ+ community such as HIV/AIDS, women’s health, or substance abuse, have collaborated with public health agencies and community-based organizations to identify health disparities and needs, and have implemented outreach to address these needs.

This chapter maps the landscape of health sciences librarian outreach to LGBTQ+ people. The authors develop this theme through case studies of health science librarians providing health information to the LGBTQ+ community and healthcare professionals. Following an overview of advocacy for LGBTQ+ health by the US National Network of Libraries of Medicine and professional information organizations, they conclude the chapter by discussing the “pioneering” nature of these projects and the common threads uniting them, and by identifying the next steps for continued successful outreach through the development of an evidence base and tailoring of outreach and resources to address other demographic aspects of the members of the LGBTQ+ community.




The authors would like to thank the following health science librarians for sharing their stories of outreach and advocacy: Lindsay Blake, Wayne Carter, Francisco Fajardo, Emily Glenn, David Keddle, Jacqueline Leskovec, Robin Parker, and Geetha Sridaran.


Stevens, G.A., Morris, M., Nguyen, T. and Vardell, E. (2019), "Health Sciences Librarians in the Field: Pioneers for LGBTQ+ Health", Mehra, B. (Ed.) LGBTQ+ Librarianship in the 21st Century: Emerging Directions of Advocacy and Community Engagement in Diverse Information Environments (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 45), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 65-87.



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