JOIN us at WLIC in Dublin on Thursday 28 July 2002, 11:00 – 12:30 at Wicklow Hall 2 for
Librarians as evidence intermediaries during times of crisis‘ (Session 142)

At this round-table session we will discuss how librarians from different sectors and world regions are responding to the call for evidence during disease outbreaks, natural and man-made disasters – from wildfires and monkeypox to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Topics include: inequity of evidence, strategies to meet demand, and new collaborations and innovative partnerships.

While evidence-based librarianship has its roots in health librarianship, it is now at the heart of our profession. Evidence-informed decision making is particularly important during disasters, when there may be a greater sense of urgency with limited access to information. The past two years have really demonstrated the need to learn information discernment and response in times of crisis.

COVID-19 created “a once-in-a-generation focus on evidence…an unparalleled demand for evidence to address rapidly evolving challenges.”1
Yet it also “laid bare shortfalls in the production and sharing of quality evidence synthesis.”2 

The recommendations from these two reports by the Evidence Commission and Cochrane Convenes are a strong call to action, ‘a wake-up call’ to improve evidence-informed decision-making in preparation for the next global health crisis.

This is core to our work at the Evidence for Global and Disaster Health special interest group [E4GDH], as we seek to promote and strengthen the roles that librarians play in times of disaster and in response to global health challenges.

Two presentations will set the context for our discussions

  1. Health information as a human right: developments over the past year
    Margaret Zimmerman, Florida State University, United States
  2. Building Global Evidence Support systems
    Jeremy Grimshaw, co-lead Global Commission on Evidence to Support Societal Challenges

Our broad discussion topics include:


COVID-19 highlighted existing inequity “in terms of the focus of the evidence, who has been producing it and who it reaches.”

What methods can be used to promote the equitable dissemination of evidence to marginalized groups?
What examples have you come across that demonstrate equitable practices in evidence dissemination?
What do we, as a group, want to say about equity on behalf of librarians and their patrons?

Strategies / Working practices

“…our methods, tools and processes have been pushed to their limits in trying to
    answer questions at the speed demanded. 2

Can you share an example of adapting practices to meet the timely demand for evidence?
What tools and approaches would you recommend / or what gaps have you identified?
What training needs arose / would arise?
What role can social media play?

Coordination and collaboration

“The need for evidence to support decision making has sparked some notable innovations  and fast-tracked collaboration”2

Can you share an example of forging a new partnership or extra benefits from a partnership?
Can you share an example of providing evidence to new audiences?
What were the unexpected consequences?
How did / could you avoid duplication of effort?

This round-table session will build upon our provocation Access to health information as a human right: A global call to action and practical steps during the 2021 virtual IFLA congress.


1 The Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges The Evidence Commission report: A wake-up call and path forward for decision-makers, evidence intermediaries, and impact-oriented evidence producers.  January 2022  [Report available in 6 IFLA languages]

Cochrane Convenes Preparing for and responding to global health emergencies: Learnings from the COVID-19 evidence response and recommendations for the future.  February 2022