Letter in Response to CHEO Hospital Library Closures

PDF Version

December 16, 2020

To: Alex Munter, President and Chief Executive Officer, CHEO

CC: Watson Gale, General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, CHEO; Ann Lynch, Senior Vice President Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive, CHEO; Joanne Lowe, Vice President Mental Health and Addictions, CHEO; Dr. Ken Farion, Medical Director, Quality and Systems Improvement, CHEO; Christine Kouri, Manager Health Equity & Diversity, CHEO; Ellen Shipman, President, Region 10, RNAO; Karen McCoy, Local 214 Local Coordinator, ONA; Shaun Reid, President of Local 474, OPSEU

RE: Decommissioning of CHEO’s hospital library and the Kaitlin Atkinson Family Resource Library

Dear Mr. Munter,

We are gravely concerned about the recent decision to close CHEO’s hospital library, the Kaitlin Atkinson Family Resource Library, and to dismiss the library staff. Hospital libraries are instrumental for advancing evidence-based practice and effective and safe patient care (1-4), and help to fulfill accreditation standards by providing timely access to research-based evidence (6-7). Library staff and the resources they provide have consistently shown to have a positive impact and high return on investment in health care organizations (1-5,8). 

We recognize that CHEO has a close relationship to the University of Ottawa, and perhaps plans to lean more heavily on the University for the provision of evidence to inform clinical practice. We find this logic misguided and problematic, given that the University would only be able to serve affiliated health care professionals (mostly physicians), leaving patients, their families, and the majority of allied health care personnel without access. This would mean that the majority of nurses, technicians, councillors, social workers and most of the mental health staff will no longer have access to the latest medical evidence to inform their practice or decisions. Given the strain the pandemic is putting on our youth’s mental health, the decision to strip mental health workers of their access to a medical library is extremely concerning.

In addition, even with the University of Ottawa Library’s support of affiliated physicians, the University is a broad academic institution dedicated to the needs of many, and as a result does not have the same focus as CHEO’s hospital library, which licences access to specialized pediatric content and provides expert and time-sensitive support for patient care.  A dedicated, specialized library within CHEO is better suited to understand and meet the needs of CHEO’s health care staff and patients.

While this closure would be concerning at any time, we find it all the more alarming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when misinformation abounds in the public sphere and the pace of research has far outpaced clinical staff’s ability to stay informed. Indeed, this is the worst possible time to be shuttering a source of reliable, evidence-based information to both families and health care workers.

We ask that you strongly reconsider these closures, and continue to invest in library staff and resources which provide vital support to the hospital, patients and families.


Kelly Farrah
President, Ottawa Valley Health Libraries Association (OVHLA)

Francesca Frati
President, Canadian Health Libraries Association (CHLA)

Lance Fox
President, Saskatchewan Health Libraries Association (SHLA)

Kathryn Tippell-Smith
President, Southern Alberta Health Libraries Association (SAHLA)

Tanya Harron
President, Wellington Waterloo Dufferin Health Library Network (WWDHLN)

Jody Nelson
President, Northern Alberta Health Libraries Association (NAHLA)

Pamela Harrison
President, Health Libraries Association of British Columbia (HLABC)

Lisa Battistella
President, Golden Horseshoe Health Libraries Association (GHHLA) 

Maureen Babb
President, Manitoba Association of Health Information Providers (MAHIP)


  1. Bartlett, J. C., & Marshall, J. G. (2013). The Value of Library and Information Services in Patient Care: Canadian Results From an International Multisite Study. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association / Journal de l’Association Des Bibliothèques de La Santé Du Canada, 34(3), 138–146. https://doi.org/10.5596/c13-063
  2. Brettle, A., Maden, M., & Payne, C. (2016). The impact of clinical librarian services on patients and health care organisations. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 33(2), 100–120. https://doi.org/10.1111/hir.12136
  3. Fratti, F., Oja, L.A., Kleinberg, J. (2020). CHLA Standards for Library and Information Services in Canadian Health & Social Services Institutions. https://www.chla-absc.ca/docs/CHLA_Standards_FINAL_for_website_Dec_12_2020.pdf
  4. Gard Marshall, G. J., Craft Morgan, J., A. Thompson, C., & L. Wells, A. (2014). Library and information services: Impact on patient care quality. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 27(8), 672–683. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHCQA-10-2013-0119
  5. Hartfiel, N., Sadera, G., Treadway, V., Lawrence, C., & Tudor Edwards, R. (2020). A clinical librarian in a hospital critical care unit may generate a positive return on investment. Health Information & Libraries Journal, n/a(n/a). https://doi.org/10.1111/hir.12332
  6. Ritchie, A., Gilbert, C., Gaca, M., Siemensma, G., & Taylor, J. (2020). Hospital Librarians’ Contributions to Health Services’ Accreditation: An Account of the Health Libraries for the National Safety and Quality in Health Services Standards (HeLiNS) Research Project, 2016-18. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 69(2), 215–245. https://doi.org/10.1080/24750158.2020.1736791
  7. Standards—Accreditation Canada’s Programs and HSO’s Standards. (2020). Accreditation Canada. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://accreditation.ca/standards/
  8. Worth every cent and more: An independent assessment of the return on investment of health libraries in Australia. (2013). http://read.alia.org.au/content/worth-every-cent-and-more-independent-assessment-return-investment-health-libraries


Mark your calendars! OVHLA will hold its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday October 21, 2020 from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm via Zoom (log in details to follow).

The draft agenda is available here: http://ovhla.chla-absc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/OVHLA-AGM-2020-Agenda-.pdf

If you have any agenda items to add, please send them to me. We are also looking for fun virtual social ideas!

You can access 2019 AGM minutes here: October 2019

Please note that at the AGM we will be discussing a proposed Bylaw Amendment:

Motion to amend Article 4 – Officers: 

Current wording: 

The business of the Association shall be conducted by an Executive Committee consisting of a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and a Continuing Education Coordinator. There will be a two-year term of office for each position. Terms of office will begin in the fall and end in the fall of the following 2 years hence. Terms will be staggered so no more than two officers will have their term expire in the same year.

Proposed wording: 

The business of the Association shall be conducted by an Executive Committee consisting of a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and a Continuing Education Coordinator. There will be a two-year term of office for each position. Terms of office will begin in the fall and end in the fall of the following 2 years hence. The terms of the office of President and Secretary will end in odd-numbered years. The terms of office for Treasurer and Continuing Education Coordinator will end in even-numbered years.

Looking forward to seeing you then!

OVHLA Executive

2018 President’s Award: Shaila Mensinkai

Congratulations to Shaila Mensinkai for being nominated by her peers for the OVHLA President’s Award. Shaila was nominated for making a significant, long-lasting contribution to the OVHLA community through her leadership in health technology assessment librarianship, and her “behind the scenes” support of search methodology projects, presentations and resources. Thank you Shaila!

2018 Membership Renewals

It’s that time of year again, to renew your OVHLA memberships!

Membership in the OVHLA provides you with an opportunity to attend local CE events and social activities and stay connected with your local professional community. Last year’s activities included a mini symposium to share projects, our AGM and social, and clinical rounds at CHEO with Margaret Sampson.

Check out our Membership page for more information.

2017 President’s Award: Cait Ford

Congratulations to Cait Ford for being nominated by her peers for the OVHLA President’s Award. Cait served for three years on the OVHLA executive as the CE Coordinator and worked to establish the successful OVHLA mini-symposium event, now held annually. She is an enthusiastic and visionary leader, and was a key player in bringing CHLA to Ottawa in 2019. Thank you for your service Cait!

OVHLA AGM – 2017

Mark your calendars! The Ottawa Valley Health Libraries Association will hold its AGM at Joule HQ (1031 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON Canada K1S 3W7) on Thursday October 5th, 2017 from 5:00pm to 6:30pm with a social event to follow.  The agenda will be posted on our website and sent out via the listserv shortly before our meeting.

Please also join us for a social event following the AGM.  The event location will be within the Lansdowne area.  Details to follow!

We hope to see you there!

– The OVHLA Executive Committee

2016 – 2017 OVHLA Executive

Hello everyone!

We have been slow to share some good news!  The OVHLA held its annual general meeting in October this year and we welcomed two new people to the Executive.  We are very excited to welcome Aleksandra Grobelna from CADTH as our Treasurer and Sandra McKeown from Queen’s University Library as our Secretary.  A big welcome to you both!!  Thank you for joining us 🙂

In other good news, I am very happy to announce that Cait Ford will be staying on as our CE Coordinator!

Congrats and thank you to all!

AGM Update!!

To members who planned to call into the meeting, please use the following call-in number:

Number is 1-866-991-8797

Participant PIN code is 1862769#

Skype will not be available due to technology restrictions.

Thank you!!