This edition of HILJ Club has been prepared by Natasha Howard, Knowledge & Library Services Manager, North East London Foundation Trust @nhhoward

The paper for discussion is Yuvaraj, M (2020) Global responses of health science librarians to the COVID-19 (Corona virus) pandemic: a desktop analysis, Health Information and Libraries Journal, 37(4), pp. 337-342.

Available Free Access


This paper is based on desktop research. It captured my interest because of the international perspective. COVID-19 is a global pandemic. There’s been a lot of discussion about the UK LIS and NHS / health sector response so it is good opportunity to broaden our perspective.


The objective of this paper was to identify the responses of health sciences librarians to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically to:

  • explore initiatives to raise awareness on preventive measures
  • identify problems in providing documenting delivery services in lockdown
  • identify useful resources and websites providing COVID-19 research findings


This paper used desktop analysis of the official websites of five selected library associations with an international scope.


The findings are organised under the three study objectives. Librarians designed posters, encouraged COVID-19 survivors to share their experiences and designed and made PPE using 3D printers. Inter library loan problems included issues of sanitizing materials, the lack of research on transmission, [check CILIP] and preservation concerns linked to use of disinfectants. The article mentions the WHO database of global literature and includes a table of major publishers providing free access to COVID-19 research. 


Librarians and knowledge specialists are committed to providing good quality information. During the COVID-19 crisis we have found new ways to deliver and have expanded our roles significantly.

Questions for Discussion


How have health sciences librarians responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

So what?

This article highlights some significant initiatives that can be replicated by other services now, and perhaps in response to future pandemics.

Now what?

Health librarians have had an active role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Going forward I want to focus on highlighting and promoting my service’s contribution locally and even across the North East London integrated care system. It is important that our most senior stakeholders are aware of the work that we have done and what we may be able to contribute to recovery planning and implementation. 

It might be that some of what we have done (for example our HEE funded Digital Health Champions project with DigitalUnite) needs to become “business as usual”. 

I also need to take some time to reflect on my service’s response, what went well and what could have gone better and think through strategic implications for service delivery and development. Perhaps doing an After Action Review   

Consider the following questions for discussion:

  • Should all health librarians be health activists?
  • What can we do to make sure that we are set up to take proactive approach to the next pandemic?
  • This article focuses on health librarians’ initiatives aimed at researchers and faculty and to a lesser extent, the public. How could we find out more about responses of health librarians serving health care workers? What else might usefully be included e.g. HEE LKS COVID-19 evidence search bank
  • This article focuses on health librarians in the Global North. What do we miss out on when we focus on “the oldest library associations”?

Please join in the discussion and let us know what you think of the article. If the article has affected your practice, do let us know below!

Further reading

African Library & Information Associations & Institutions

Forthcoming IFLA Journal Special Issue on Libraries and COVID-19: Opportunities for Innovation see call for papers

Perry GJ (2020) The activist health sciences librarian. Journal of the Medical Library Association 108(1), pp. 5-16. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2020.859 COVID-19

Linsey, S (2020) Partnership working with Public Libraries- Health Information Covid-19 and Beyond COVID-19. HEE KLS Blog, 9 October 2020

COVID- 19  

This is Health Education England’s hub for coronavirus information for KLS staff working in the NHS. It includes links to COVID-19 evidence sources, the COVID-19 search bank, collated trusted information for patients and the public etc.