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With over 6 million students now taking at least one course online, higher education is significantly shifting educational and outreach approaches (The Sloan Consortium, 2011). This trend is particularly strong in the medical field, as “fully online health sciences programs show higher growth than online programs in other disciplines” (The Sloan Consortium, 2011). To meet these emerging needs, library support must now occur via Learning Management Systems, Guides, Tutorials, and Websites. In parallel with the education trends, telemedicine consultations are becoming options more readily available to patients and practitioners making online learning and collaboration a professional skill.

In early 2013, a Distance Support SIG informally developed a network to discuss issues and professional development around this topic. Informal membership formed around a self-managed listserv. Other Sections with interest in the topic, such as NAHRS and EMTS, were identified. However, a clear profile of participants supporting distance programs, what types of distance programs, and professional development needs were unclear.


To better identify the positions, types of libraries, and needs of SIG participants, the researchers developed a short survey distributed to the informal distance support listserv via Qualtrics. After talks with EMTS and the decision to merge the Distance Support SIG with EMTS, the survey was redistributed to EMTS members via the EMTS listserv. The second survey ran in RedCAP. Given the change in participant pool and the merging of the Distance Support SIG with EMTS, some questions were revised.