Full Text LM-95-002


NIH GUIDE, Volume 24, Number 5, February 10, 1995

RFA:  LM-95-002

P.T. 34

  Biomedical Research Training 
  Information Science/Systems 

National Library of Medicine

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  April 10, 1995
Application Receipt Date:  May 18, 1995


Health science librarians have the important responsibility of making
useful medical information available to all involved in health care:
biomedical scientists, health practitioners, educators, and
administrators.  As the store of biomedical information continues to
expand, the nation's need for librarians to manage such vast
quantities of information will increase correspondingly.

Recruitment of capable, motivated students into this vital profession
deserves a high priority.  Further, because management of information
has become increasingly dependent on computer-based tools, librarians
must concomitantly acquire the requisite expertise in computers,
telecommunications, and networks  Many health science librarians
already have commendable sophistication in relevant information
technology, but it is likely that such skills will be universally
required in the near future.  The national need for health sciences
librarians capable of applying the new information technology to
biomedicine was reaffirmed recently by a National Library of Medicine
(NLM) Planning Panel on the Education and Training of Health
Librarians, which identified four priority areas for further

o  Evolving role of the health sciences librarian.
o  Professional educational programs for health sciences librarians.
o  Lifelong learning programs for health sciences librarians.
o  Broadening recruitment into health sciences librarianship.

To initiate implementation of the panel recommendations, the NLM
announces a request for applications (RFA) for awards to support
additional planning in the four areas targeted by the Panel.  The
objective of these awards is to identify specific individuals,
groups, and institutions that are interested in assuming
responsibility, singly or collaboratively, for some portion of the
task, and can propose a plausible approach.


The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health
promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000,"
a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas.  This RFA,
Planning Grants for Education and Training of Health Sciences
Librarians, is related to the priority area of surveillance and data
systems.  Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People
2000" (Full Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report:
Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) through the Superintendent of Documents,
Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325 (telephone


Domestic public and private, non-profit institutions are eligible to
apply.  Most applicants will be institutions devoted to some aspect
of health science or of education but any institution that can
plausibly help realize one or more of the goals of the RFA is
eligible. ("Health sciences" is defined as medicine, dentistry,
nursing, public health, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and other
sciences related to health.)  Racial/ethnic minority individuals,
women, and those with disabilities are encouraged to apply as
Principal Investigators.  Domestic applications can not have
international components. Consortia of eligible institutions are
encouraged to apply.  Consortium applications must be submitted by a
single, lead institution; letters of agreement defining mutual
responsibilities must be provided in the application and signed by
authorized officials of each participating institution.


This RFA will use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continuing
education training grants (T15) mechanism . Indirect costs of eight
percent will be provided.  Responsibility for the planning,
direction, and execution of the proposed project will be solely that
of the applicant.  The project period for an application submitted in
response to this RFA may not exceed one year.

For single institutions, support is available up to $60,000 per year;
consortia may receive up to $90,000 per year.


Funds available for this RFA are approximately $250,000; however,
expenditure of this amount is conditional upon the receipt of a
sufficient number of applications of high merit.  Number of awards to
be made is estimated to be between two and four.  Applicants are
encouraged to seek co-funding from other sources.  Although the PHS
budget is expected to permit support of these projects, funding of
any applications pursuant to this RFA are contingent upon the
availability of funds at the appropriate time.

Funding will be made available by the NLM for one year planning
grants.  Applicants whose plans mature quickly may wish to use a
portion of the award for initiating a model project or early
implementation.  Although no assurance of further support can be made
at this time, the NLM may elect to solicit applications for
additional years of funding for implementation of highly promising
plans that result from the initial grants.  Each award will be made
to a single primary sponsor institution, although other associations,
institutions, and individuals may be involved in the project, and
indeed, NLM encourages formation of consortia to approach such
complex issues.  Co-sponsorship by other funding sources is desirable
if available.



Modern information technology facilitates both the pace of scientific
discovery, as in molecular biology, and the efficiency with which the
information is transferred from the laboratory to health care
delivery in the academic medical center, the local community
hospital, and the rural clinic.  Recent advances in high performance
computing and communications have dramatically accelerated the need
for adapting the education of health science librarians so as to
include skill in these remarkable new tools for managing information.

The 1987 NLM Long Range Plan underscored the importance of promoting
the training of electronically-advantaged health sciences librarians.
It recommended that NLM help "institute new prototype programs
containing special curricula in U.S. library and information science
schools that emphasize integrated information concepts and the
application of new technologies to information dissemination."  Also
envisioned was the need for continuing education opportunities to
upgrade the skills of librarians currently in the workforce who must
learn to use these technologies, and who are also increasingly called
upon to impart these fundamental skills to health professional
end-users in a variety of educational and clinical settings.  The
challenge is to identify the knowledge, skills and expertise that
will be needed in the future and to devise functional mechanisms for
providing this requisite training.

The Medical Library Association (MLA) in its 1991 report, Platform
for Change, undertook to define the professional attributes and
technical capabilities required of the health sciences librarian of
the future.  Among its recommendations, the report specifically
requests NLM to identify its future directions and priorities for its
activities in support of the educational needs of health sciences
librarians.  Convening NLM's Planning Panel on the Education and
Training of Health Science Librarians,  therefore, was a direct
response both to the NLM 1987 Long Range Plan and the MLA request.

In Summer 1993, a panel was formed at the direction of the then Board
of Regents Chair, Rachael Anderson, with the specific Panel Charge

o  Analyze the possible programs and activities of the NLM, of
individuals, of professional associations, and of other institutions
that might be undertaken over the next ten years in order to ensure
that society benefits from the skills of health sciences librarians;

o  Assure that persons who choose health sciences librarianship will
be properly educated and trained, and that they have opportunity to
engage in the most important work concerning information and health

The Core Panel, chaired by Dr. Thomas Detre of the University of
Pittsburgh, as well as a number of ad hoc panels, included a broad
representation of individuals and organizations relevant to health
science librarianship.  After three meetings during 1993 and 1994,
the Panel issued a report in September 1994, which provided the
impetus for this RFA.

Objectives and Scope

The Panel recommended that NLM should establish a program of awards
(called "Challenge Awards" in the report) to support planning that
would facilitate the implementation of specific report
recommendations.  With these awards, NLM hopes to encourage and
support the development of plans for dealing with some portion of the
recommendations of the Panel.  Although the emphasis of the RFA is on
planning, applicants may utilize part of the award for implementation
of model or pilot projects.

High priority areas for which further planning is needed include, but
are not limited to, the following examples:

o  Evolving role of the health sciences librarian.

Professionals who are sophisticated about information technology and
systems are often seen as an elite in high demand by institutions.
For example: would a librarian trained in information technology be
able to assume institutional responsibilities beyond administration
of the library in such information-management issues as enterprise
information systems or computer-based patient records?; what
preparation is needed for such expanded responsibilities? how would
new capabilities achieve appropriate recognition from executives,
professional organizations, health service organizations?

o  Professional educational programs for health sciences librarians.

Avenues of approach include curriculum development, and
experimentation with alternative curricular models within the MLS
course of study.  Areas of experimentation could include core and
elective course-work, practical educational technologies, or
accelerated instruction schedules.  Possibilities for joint faculty
appointments and combined degree programs at the masters and doctoral
levels should also be explored, as should the pros and cons of
degrees, certificates, and other devices for recognizing completion
of a course of instruction.  Changes in traditional curricula as well
as enhancement of the few technology-intensive curricula already in
place can be considered.

Additional consideration must also be given to the possibly different
needs of health science librarians in hospitals, academic health
centers, health maintenance organizations and other sites.  Some
applicants may be interested in carrying out research on a broad
variety of important questions in information science.

The appropriate curriculum is not self-evident.  Information
technology subsumes a large number of topics, only some of which are
likely to be of interest to a librarian; for many, instruction in
some aspects of business administration, organizational theory, or
other areas may be of greater use than deep delving into computer
science; those interested in investigation may require more
research-oriented training.  Also worthy of consideration are the
credentials necessary to ensure faculty status for librarians at
health science schools.

o  Lifelong learning programs for health sciences librarians.

Education of professionals after they have joined the job market is
essential for retaining skills and learning new ones, and may offer
some promise as a means of increasing  expertise among librarians
more quickly than is possible through curriculum reform.  Here too,
the pros and cons of academic degrees, certificates, and other
devices for recognizing completion of a course of instruction must be
considered, as must the question of time available, expense, and loss
of income for librarians who have already completed formal schooling.
Do part time, weekend, or short intensive courses have any place?

o  Broadening recruitment into health sciences librarianship.

How to attract, to this field, the people who can meet its growing
challenges, remains an important issue.  Like most professional
schools, library schools would benefit from a larger pool of
well-qualified applicants. In addition, recruitment efforts for
attracting minority applicants deserve particular emphasis.  The
topic involves complex issues of image, income, and opportunity for
advancement among others.  Whether the prospects and fruits of
involvement in high technology can increase allure of the field
remains to be determined.


Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by April 10, 1995, a
letter of intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed
project, the name, address, and telephone number of the Principal
Investigator, the identities of other key personnel in the sponsoring
institution and in participating institutions, the identities of
consultants, and the number and title of this RFA.  It is
particularly helpful if consortia provide complete lists of key
people who will be associated with the project for all participants.
Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does
not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the
information that it contains allows NLM staff to estimate the
potential review work-load and avoid conflict of interest in the

The letter of intent is to be sent to Mrs. Frances E. Johnson at the
address listed under INQUIRIES.


The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91) is to be used
in applying for these grants.  These forms are available at most
institutional offices of sponsored research; from the Office of
Grants Information, Division of Research Grants, National Institutes
of Health, 5333 Westbard Avenue, Room 449, Bethesda, MD 20892,
telephone 301-710-0267; and from the program administrator listed

Applicants should not feel constrained by the emphasis on research in
the language used by the application forms.  The NLM considers these
grants to be projects, not research applications, and will evaluate
the applications in that spirit.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 application form must be
affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure
to use this label could result in delayed processing of the
application such that it may not reach the review committee in time
for review.  In addition, the RFA title and number must be typed on
line 2a of the face page of the application form and the YES box must
be marked.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including
the Checklist, and three signed, photocopies, to:

Division of Research Grants
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040
Bethesda, MD  20892
Bethesda, MD  20817 (express mail)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application
must also be sent to Ms. Frances E. Johnson at the address listed


Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the
NIH Division of Research Grants (DRG) and responsiveness by the NLM.
Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant without
further consideration.  Applications that are complete and responsive
to the RFA will be evaluated for merit in accordance with the review
criteria stated below; merit will be judged by an appropriate peer
review group convened by the NLM.

As part of the review procedure, a triage process may be used by the
initial review group in which applicants will be determined to be
competitive or non-competitive based on merit relative to other
applications received in response to the RFA.  Applications
determined to be non-competitive will be withdrawn from further
consideration; the Principal Investigator and the official signing
for the applicant organization will be notified.  Applications judged
to be competitive will be discussed by the review group and assigned
a priority score.

Review Criteria

o  Relevance of the proposed project to the goals of the RFA.

o  Potential for development of a feasible plan that would be capable
of making an impact.  Applications that have promise for large scale
utility in themselves or as clear models will receive preference over
applications with more parochial benefits.

o  Suitability of the principal investigator and the organization(s)
involved to the problem being addressed.  Although wide latitude will
be give, the application should reasonably be within the purview of
the proposers.  Some problems are best addressed by faculty, some by
health science school administrators, yet others by officers of
professional or other organizations.  For many applications,
consortia may represent the best approach.

o  Sophistication of the requirements for implementation, including
start-up costs, long-term funding issues, and time-tables

o  Plans for evaluating the effects of the proposed approach


In addition to merit with respect to the review criteria identified
above, awards depend upon available funds and programmatic


Inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.  The opportunity to
clarify any issues or questions
from potential applicants is welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues and requests for the
"Report of the Planning Panel on the Education and Training of Health
Sciences Librarians," to:

Mrs. Frances E. Johnson
Division of Extramural Programs
National Library of Medicine
Building 38A, Room 5S-520
Bethesda, MD  20894
Telephone:  (301) 496-4221
FAX:  (301) 402-0421

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Mrs. Ruth Bortz
Division of Extramural Programs
National Library of Medicine
Building 38A, Room 5N507
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 402-0421


The Resource Grant Program is described in the Catalog of Federal
Domestic Assistance No. 93.879, Medical Library Assistance.  Grants
will be awarded under the authority of the Public Health Service Act,
Section 474(42 USC 286b-5) and administered under PHS grants policies
and Federal Regulations, most specifically at 42 CFR Part 59a and 45
CRF Part 74.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-
free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  This
is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and advance the
physical and mental health of the American people.


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