Without a doubt, the relationship between health librarians and their users has dramatically changed due to the rapid spread of Internet use and the incredible progress of digital communications across the world. Therefore, the roles of medical librarians and libraries have changed to meet the new opportunities and challenges for accessing and utilizing health knowledge in this digital world.
The World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO/EMRO) is making serious efforts to support the availability and accessibility of electronic health information resources in the region and from outside, e.g., WHO Index Medicus for Eastern Mediterranean Region (IMEMR). This access is essential to attaining the goal of health for all, and will help bridge the knowledge gap in developing countries. Consequently, the new role of libraries and librarians in the region may include:
- Managing electronic information resources rather than managing physical collections. This requires continuous scanning of the horizon not only for the most appropriate and relevant resources but also the most cost-effective arrangements.
- Converting the library into a knowledge center to manage the different types of knowledge within expertise databases, institutional databases, and regional documentation databases to support learning and research at the national, regional and international level
- Managing networks of knowledge resources and centers and acting as a hub to support access to and use of knowledge
- Collaborating with universities and research centers to support knowledge translation and to provide evidence for policy and action through systematic and in-depth research
- Supporting staff training to build capacity in searching for and managing information resources
- Strengthening the role of end users in ensuring the sustainability of the virtual library as an essential part of the virtual community