Health Science Librarian (HSL)

  • Health Science Librarian (HSL)

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Health Science Librarians or Medical Librarians provide health information about new medical treatments, clinical trials, standard trial procedures, and tests to physicians, other health professionals, consumers, patients, and corporations.
  • Work in hospitals; medical centers; colleges and universities; research centers and foundations; industry (biotechnology, insurance, medical equipment, pharmaceutical, publishing); corporations; public libraries; and Internet companies.
  • Responsible for a variety of duties: manage library and library staff; retrieve requested print and electronic resources; purchase books, magazines, and electronic resources; provide access and evaluate materials; design, develop, and maintain web sites; and teach others how to find and use the resources available in the library.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Contact with physicians, pharmacists, other health professionals, patients, consumers, administrators, researchers, programmers and information technology specialists is likely.
  • Variety of settings to work is available.

Getting Started

  • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
  • High School courses would include literature, computer technology, foreign language, and Medical Terminology.
  • Shadow a Medical Librarian or work in a college library.
  • A Master’s Degree from a school accredited by the American Library Association is required to become a Health Science Librarian. Graduate programs can be completed in 1 – 2 years.
  • At UW-Milwaukee, an application to the Master’s of Library and Information Science program must be made to the UWM School of Information Studies (MLIS) AND to the Graduate School.
  • A MLIS degree requirement is 36 credits. If a Master’s or Doctorate degree in another field has been completed, then the MLIS requirement will be reduced to 30 credits. A proficiency requirement with either passing a comprehensive examination or completing and successfully defending a thesis is mandatory for obtaining the MLIS. A grade of “B” must be maintained.
  • UW-Madison requires a 42-credit minimum for a Master of Arts Degree. Up to 9 graduate credits of electives may be applied to the Master’s Degree from a field outside library science. Practicum experience of at least 40 hours is also required.
  • Graduate courses in scientific literature, biomedical communication, health informatics, electronic and print resources, database searching, organization and management, cataloging systems, bibliographic instruction, online course and web design, medical terminology, anatomy, epidemiology or biostatistics are suggested.

Educational Institutions

University of Wisconsin – Madison
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee


  • A Master’s Degree from a school accredited by the American Library Association is required to become a Health Science Librarian. Graduate programs can be completed in 1 – 2 years.
  • A prerequisite of a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts or Science in any field is acceptable for most graduate school admissions. Preferable would be a Bachelor’s Degree in biology, pre-medicine, chemistry, nursing, Computer Science, Education, or Information Services.
  • At UW-Madison the criteria for admission include: three letters of recommendation; undergraduate program that includes liberal arts and sciences, with a specialization in a major discipline, an applied science, or a profession; 90 semester credits in liberal arts and sciences, including a major; and competencies in the use of microcomputers (word processing, spreadsheets, electronic mail, and database management software packages).
  • The Graduate School at UW-Milwaukee requirements include: Bachelor’s Degree from an approved institution and an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75; satisfactory scores on the Miller Analogies Test or Verbal and Quantitative Aptitude portions of the GRE; and two letters of recommendation about the applicant’s likelihood of success in the Library Science Program.


American Library Association
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL, 60611-2795
202/628-8410 or 800/545-2433

American Medical Informatics Association
4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 500
Bethesda , MD, 20814

Health and Science Communications Assoc.
PO Box 31323
Omaha, NE, 68132

Medical Library Association
65 E. Wacker Place, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL, 60601-7246

U.S. National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD, 20894
888/346-3656 (FIND – NLM)

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 2,590
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 143,100
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 145,700
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 2%
Expected Annual Openings: 2,950
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $52,371

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

Work 40-hour workweek; nights and weekends may be required.

  • Second Master’s Degree or Ph.D. or other second degree (Medical informatics or Business and Management) may be beneficial.
  • May apply for membership to the Academy of Health Information Professionals (sponsored by the Medical Library Association) a credentialing program for Health Science Librarians.
  • Informationist is a new role for Health Sciences Librarians. Informationists have training in both Information Science and Clinical/Biomedical Science.