The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), played a vital role in the creation of the Medical and Health Library Association of the Philippines (MAHLAP). The idea of organizing an association of medical and health librarians was conceived during the seminar-workshop on "Current Management Trends for Health Care Libraries," that was held in Cebu City from 3 to 7 November 1986. This workshop is sponsored by PCHRD and the British Council (BC). Mr. Roy Tabor and Ms. Nickey Whitsed, both practicing medical librarians from the United Kingdom served as tutors. Twenty medical and health librarians from the academe, government, and private institutions participated in this workshop.
The organizational meeting of medical and health librarians in Metro Manila was held at the Executive Lounge of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in May 1987 with the support of PCHRD Director Dr. Quintin Kintanar, Director and PCHRD Deputy Director Dr. Pacita Zara. It was in this meeting that MAHLAP was formed. A task force was constituted to prepare and draft the association's constitution and by-laws. The members of the task force are Ms. Rosvida R. Rosal (University Librarian, UP Manila) as Chair, Ms. Lilita Decena (+) (Population Commission), Ms. Elnora L. Conti (Philippine Atomic Energy Commission), Ms. Aurora S. Salvador (+) (Far Eastern University Nicanor R. Reyes Memorial Foundation), Ms. Natividad R. Caballero (Manila Central University, Felimon D. Tanchoco Memorial Foundation), and Ms. Myrna Y. Uyengco (US -Naval Research Medical Unit, US Embassy), as Members. Ms. Anicia Canseco served as the Adviser.
The task force also launched a MAHLAP logo contest chaired by Mrs. Rosvida R. Rosal with the Board of judges composed by Dr. Mariano B. Caparas, Dr. Guillermo G. Damian, Mr. Norberto P. Hocson and Dr. Oscar M. Tangco. The judging was held at the UP College of Medicine library on May 25, 1987. The entry of Mrs. Lydia Tobias of the Information, Education and Communication Division, National Nutrition Council was chosen as the winning entry and became the official logo of MAHLAP.
The MAHLAP logo epitome a person reading a book, indicating its objectives to encourage and promote the collection, organization and dissemination of medical health information and library service; encourage and cultivate library cooperation, local and regional; and to enhance and uphold the dignity and ethics of the medical and health librarianship. Color scheme represents truth and enlightenment: white, medicine - green, and progress - aqua blue.
The MAHLAP seal consists of a circle and four triangles. The green circle symbolizes the objectives of the association, going upward which means that the organization is searching and looking for the good of the members and organization itself. The white color scheme represents truth and enlightenment, green for medicine and aqua blue is for progress.
The election of the first set of officers of MAHLAP was held in October 1987 and an induction ceremony was held on February 20, 1988 at the Hotel Midtown Ramada in Ermita, Manila. Dr. Alberto G. Romualdez, Jr. (+) (Assistant Secretary, Department of Health) represented Dr. Alfredo R. A. Bengzon, Secretary, Department of Health as inducting officer. The first elected President of MAHLAP is Mrs. Rosvida R. Rosal, University Librarian of the University of the Philippines Manila. It was also on this same occasion, that the Health Information Research and Development Information Network (HERDIN) was launched. MAHLAP observes February 20, 1988 as its foundation date and not the founding date which is May 1987.
In 1992, the Medical and Health Library Association of the Philippines changed its name to "Medical and Health Librarians Association of the Philippines". In August 5, 1996, it was registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) bearing the official name, Medical and Health Librarians Association of the Philippines, Inc. The objectives of the association based from the submitted SEC registration are to encourage and promote the collection, organization and dissemination of medical and health information and library services; to encourage and cultivate library cooperation; to enhance the professional welfare of its members; and to uphold dignity and ethics of medical and health libraries and librarians.
The passing of RA 6966 "An Act Regulating the Practice of Librarianship and Prescribing the Qualifications of Librarians." signed into law by President Corazon Aquino in 1990 professionalized librarianship in the country. The recognition of the importance of information providers led to the organization of the Medical and Health Librarians Association of the Philippines (MAHLAP) in 1988 and paved the way to the culling of medical and health professional librarians in the country.
MAHLAP for the past 3 decades have collaborated with the following organizations: Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME), Department of Health, Health Action Information Network (HAIN), Health Research and Development Information Network (HERDIN), Nutrition Research Information Network (NUTRINET), Science and Technology Information Network of the Philippines (ScINET-PHIL), World Health Organization Index Medicus Project, Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE) Philippine Council for Health and Research Development (PCHRD) and Davao Colleges and Universities ( DACUN ).
The membership of MAHLAP has grown from an initial number of forty (40) members to almost one hundred eighty (180). The membership comes from all over the country composed of medical and health librarians and information specialists from the academe, government and private institutions. A regular member is a person who has a college degree in Library science and works or who has worked in a medical or health related library, or one who is a candidate for a library science degree and/or with at least 24 units of library science and works in a medical or health related library. An associate member is a person who is a degree holder in any field other than library science and works in a medical or health related library. Honorary membership is granted by the association to any individual who has made outstanding contribution to the advancement of medical and health librarianship. Institutional membership is granted to any firm, agency, institution or organization maintaining medical and health collection of at least 500 titles of books, and other materials, and regularly subscribing to at least 15 titles of professional and scientific journals, maintaining regular library hours and with a qualified librarian.
Since its inception, MAHLAP have awarded honorary membership to Dr. Generoso Basa (PCHRD), Professor Clarisa Dimalanta (+) (University of the Philippines Manila, College of Medicine Library) and Dr. James Robey (WHO WPRO).
MAHLAP in the 21st century
For the past 3 decades, MAHLAP have organized annual seminars and workshops on topics such as: library accreditation and ISO, digitization, medical resources, copyright law, emerging technologies, resource sharing and networking, medical and health research, webpage construction, technical writing, total quality management, health and fitness, medical tourism among others to uplift and promote the development of medical and health libraries and librarians in the Philippines. As part of its community outreach programs, MAHLAP has also been involved in organizing medical missions to penitentiary, slum areas, orphanages and many others.
It also continues to support the emerging role of medical and health librarians in the 21st century with the onset of technological development such as with the creation of electronic and digital libraries, medical and health databases, and telemedicine. Informationists which is the new role of medical librarians, being experts both in information science and clinical/biomedical science as they retrieve and synthesize information for utilization in clinical and research settings.