Call for Papers

Information Literacy Section
& Health and Biosciences Libraries Section

It's public knowledge: information specialists defining and delivering health literacy

Colleagues from around the world are invited to submit an abstract for consideration for the Open Session jointly sponsored by the Information Literacy (IL) and Health and Biosciences Libraries (HBL) Sections.

IFLA publication

Authors will have the opportunity to have their work published in a book comprising submissions for this session and other selected papers. This book will be published in 2015 as part of the IFLA Publications Series (De Gruyter Saur).

Theme of the open session

The concept of health literacy overlaps the public health and education functions of the modern state.  An educated population, literate in the various forms in which knowledge is transmitted, should be able to understand, interpret and absorb information of relevance to their physical and mental well-being.  This capacity is essential to support a population which has the physiological and intellectual capacity to enjoy society’s physical and knowledge resources and participate fully in its affairs. 

Health literacy is of concern to policy makers, practitioners and academics in the public health, education, communication and information management spheres.  This wide range of interests, each with a different perspective, partially explains why health literacy is a difficult concept to define. 

Our definition of health literacy shifts as the focus and methods of health education change.  It is clearly an aspect of health education.  A minimum level of health literacy is required for the educational aspects of health promotion to be successful, but it can also be seen as outcome of health promotion activities.

Looking at health literacy as mainly an information presentation issue, as it often has been, risks masking the range of factors which can impede or facilitate an individual’s ability or willingness to understand and use the information presented.   A full understanding of health literacy must look at the transfer of knowledge from several perspectives - the social and cultural as well as the scientific and educational.

Proposals for joint open session

We are interested in proposals which contribute to our understanding of health literacy and address one of the following themes:

  • How can the perspective of information scientists complement the work of scholars from other backgrounds in this field?  
  • How can librarians’ expertise in information literacy and awareness of current pedagogical methods contribute to increased health literacy?
  • In what ways can health librarians’ knowledge of evidence-based practice be used to identify the most effective interventions in the health literacy area?  
  • Can librarians ensure that the best use is made of research and that health literacy programmes are based on sound policy decisions?
  • How can collaboration between librarians and other scholars and practitioners in the health sciences, social sciences and in education increase our understanding of this major public health concern?

Submission Guidelines

The proposals must be submitted in an electronic format and must contain:

  • Title of paper
  • Summary of paper (250 - 350 words maximum)
  • Speaker's name, address, telephone and fax numbers, professional affiliation, email address and biographical note (40 words)

Important dates

28 February 21 March 2014 Deadline for submission of abstract
28 March  18 April 2014 Notification of acceptance/rejection
6 June 2014 Deadline for submission of text


(Presenters who prefer not to have their paper considered for publication should indicate this preference in their submission.)


Submissions should be sent by email before Friday, 21 March 2014 to:

Brian Galvin, Chair, IFLA Health and Biosciences Libraries Section

Proposals will be reviewed by members of IL and HBS Standing Committees.


All proposals must be in before 21 марта 2014.

Please note

All expenses, including registration for the conference, travel, accommodation etc., are the responsibility of the authors/presenters. No financial support can be provided by IFLA, but a special invitation can be issued to authors.

Congress Attendance Grants

The French National Committee and IFLA have worked hard to secure funds for Conference Participation Grants. Up-to-date information will be available on our Conference Participation Grants webpage

Last update: 7 March 2014