Health and illness know no frontiers. The sciences that investigate them are perhaps the least affected by variations in cultural milieu; systems for delivering health care in different countries of Europe have more common features than differences despite political and economic influences. As a result European medical librarians and information workers have a great deal in common, regardless of the institution or the country where they live. This realisation has led to the formation of EAHIL to improve library services to the health professions by cooperation and shared experience across national boundaries.
The European Association for Health Information and Libraries counts more than 1400 members from 25 European countries, and from USA, Canada, Australia. They are librarians, libraries and commercial companies with an interest in health sciences information.
The Association's activities are financed by conference benefits, membership fees and sponsorships. Its headquarters are at:
P.O. Box 1393
NL-3600 BJ Maarssen
Fax: + 31 346 550 876
E-mail: EAHIL-SECR @ list.ecompass.nl
EAHIL has an Executive Board consisting of a President, the Past President, First and Second Vice Presidents, Treasurer, Executive Secretary and Assistant Secretary. The Council includes Board Members and representatives of members from different countries. Elections are held by electronic ballot every two years.
Much of the Associations's work is done by task forces and working groups. Issues of special interests concern:
• Continuing Education
• Membership & Fund raising
An Editorial Board is in charge of the Journal of EAHIL (formerly: "Newsletter to European Health Librarians").
EAHIL's Aims and Objectives
• To improve co operation amongst health care libraries throughout Europe
• To strenghten links with medical and health libraries in Eastern and Central Europe
• To raise standards of provision and practice in health care and medical research libraries
• To keep health librarians and information officers professionally informed
• To encourage mobility and continuing education, especially in regard to new technologies
• To represent health librarians at European level, in particular at European institutions and at WHO
According to its statutes, the European Association for Health Information and Libraries brings together Full (voting) Members from the Member States of the Council of Europe:
• health librarians and information officers at all levels of the profession as Individual Members;
• health and medical libraries and documentation centres as Institutional Members;
• national or regional associations of librarians and information officers from the health sector as Collective Members;
Associate (non voting) Members from other countries in the same three categories;
Commercial companies, whose interests coincide with those of the Association, are supporting EAHIL activities as Affiliated Members.
To further its objectives, EAHIL pursues or plans various activities:
• the Newsletter to European Health Librarians has been published quarterly since June 1987 continued by the Journal of EAHIL in 2005.
• the organisation of biennial European Conferences of Medical and Health Libraries; Brussels (1986), Bologna (1988), Montpellier (1992), Oslo (1994), Coimbra (1996), Utrecht (1998), London (2000), Cologne (2002), Santander (2004), Cluj-Napoca (2006), Helsinki (2008), Lisbon (2010), Brussels (2012), Rome (2014).
• the organisation of workshops: Brussels (1990), Barcelona (1993), Prague (1995), Budapest (1997), Tartu (1999), Alghero (2001), Oslo (2003), Palermo (2005), Krakow (2007), Dublin (2009), Istanbul (2011), Stockholm (2013).
• professional exchanges of librarians and traineeships;
• other projects intended to promote cooperation between health libraries in Europe.
In December 1984 a group of health librarians first discussed plans to initiate contacts with their colleagues in other European countries. During the Fifth International Congress of Medical Librarianship in 1985 the 26 European colleagues present in Tokyo met to discuss place and date of a first conference which was to gather health information officers and librarians from all countries of Europe. The meeting concluded with the decision to hold such a conference in Brussels a year later. Mr Marc Walckiers agreed to act as representative of the local organizing committee.
The First European Conference of Medical Libraries was held in Brussels from 30 September to 5 October 1986 with financial support from the Commission of the European Communities and funding from the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, to ensure participation of health librarians from Eastern Europe. It offered 80 papers, 6 continuing education courses and a professional exhibition with 22 exhibitors. Participants acknowledged the need for greater cooperation in Europe. The 300 medical librarians from 26 countries who met in Brussels decided at the closing session of this conference to establish a European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL). This Association was constituted on August 18, 1987, in Brighton U.K., in the presence of some one hundred colleagues and WHO and CEC representatives. Its statutes were signed by colleagues from 13 European countries. 74 librarians joined the new European Association immediately and elected a President and an interim Executive Board. Mr Marc Walckiers, Director of the Bibliothèque de la Faculté de Médecine, Université Catholique de Louvain in Brussels, served as EAHIL's first President.