The role of librarians in Global and Disaster Health: Call for inputs from HIFA members

10 May, 2019

Dear HIFA Colleagues,

We know that people need access to different types of information to help them make better decisions about their health and well-being, and how important it is that we work together to help make this information available when and where it is needed. Library and knowledge services are key to this process, but how can we get the message across to policy makers, disaster leads, other professionals and communities that librarians and their services are not only places to get access to information, but are also essential partners in the production, sharing and use of information around disaster health, including disaster preparedness and risk reduction?

The IFLA Evidence for Global & Disaster Health (E4GDH) Special Interest Group calls on HIFA members worldwide to share your experience, expertise and ideas on this topic. Disasters can be of many types- environmental and climate-based, economic, conflict-based to name but a few, and there are librarians helping in all these areas.

Do you have any examples of work you've done or experienced that has helped raise the profile of library and information professionals in this area? This could be similar to the advocacy materials shared recently on this Forum by Research4Life, or by writing up examples such as the recent article on Catalyst on the potential of libraries as 'resilience centers< Do you know of any other initiatives that we could draw on for ideas or support? We are interested to hear not just from librarians and information professionals but other specialists working in disaster health.

To show what is already being done we will highlight some examples, and the first of these we want to share is 'Librarian First Responders' - a webinar in which Feili Tu-Keefner [Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina] discussed her research into the role public librarians have played in times of crisis, and shared lessons learnt. The recording is available on our website (, with links to all the featured resources.

How your inputs will be used: We are developing advocacy materials that will be used to demonstrate the wide range of potential roles that librarians and their services can play, as part of IFLA's (International Federation of Library Associations) work to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. These materials will be aimed at different audiences and be available in different formats and languages. We will highlight practice examples and stories to help people share and learn from each other.

Best wishes


Anne Brice

Head of Knowledge Management

Public Health England

Note: The IFLA Evidence for Global & Disaster Health (E4GDH) Special Interest Group ( promotes the potential for librarians and their services to play an enhanced, pivotal role in the production, organisation, assessment and use of information concerning global and disaster health, including disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

For librarians to achieve this potential, the necessary vision, ideas, engagement, evidence, skills training and practical support must be in place. E4GDH will coordinate, stimulate and take forward the ideas and vision to enable existing expertise, organisations and resources to be harnessed.

HIFA Profile: Anne Brice is the Head of Knowledge Management for Public Health England, the expert national public health agency with a mission to protect and improve the nation’s health and to reduce inequalities. After qualifying in 1983, Anne has had a variety of positions in academic and health libraries, including the University of London, Borders Health Board, and the University of Oxford. She has held a range of national roles, including those with the former National Library for Health, NHS National Knowledge Service, and the Department of Health. Prior to joining Public Health England she was Head of Knowledge Management at Better Value Health Care, and seconded to the NHS Choices commissioning team at the Department of Health. She helped set up CASP International and has worked internationally with a range of partners and colleagues. Anne’s professional interests include evidence based practice, professional development, and the information professionals role in facilitating knowledge translation. She is currently undertaking a DPhil in Evidence Based Health Care at the University of Oxford in the area of participant experience in internet-based clinical trials. She is a member of the HIFA Project on Library and Information Services.

Email: anne.brice AT