Expert searching in health librarianship: a literature review to identify international issues and Australian concerns

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Background:The traditional role of health librarians as expert searchers is under challenge.Objectives:The purpose of this review is to establish health librarians’ views, practices and educational processes on expert searching.Methods:The search strategy was developed in LISTA and then customised for ten other databases: ALISA, PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL, ERIC, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library and Google Scholar. The search terms were (expert search* OR expert retriev* OR mediated search* OR information retriev*) AND librar*. The searches, completed in December 2010 and repeated in May 2011, were limited to English language publications from 2000 to 2011 (unless seminal works).Results:Expert searching remains a key role for health librarians, especially for those supporting systematic reviews or employed as clinical librarians answering clinical questions.Conclusions:Although clients tend to be satisfied with searches carried out for them, improvements are required to effectively position the profession. Evidence-based guidelines, adherence to transparent standards, review of entry-level education requirements and a commitment to accredited, rigorous, ongoing professional development will ensure best practice.

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