FHSLA began its "grass roots" existence at the Regional Conference of Florida Medical Librarian (RCFML) on April 19, 1961. This first meeting was held in the VA Medical Center in Bay Pines at the invitation of its Chief Librarian, Florence Bulmer. Other medical librarians attending this historic first meeting were: Eleanor P Diekema, Helen Donnelly, Christine Metcalf, Stephania Osborn, Pauline Woolridge and Mildred Moore. After drawing names out of a hat, Stephania Osborn was "selected" president.

Membership categories included active, associate and honorary. The first honorary member was Fred Bryant, then Director of the J. Hillis Miller Health Center Library, University of Florida. His early support for this group was championed by his successors, Mayo Drake and Ted Syrgley. Annual dues were $2 for active members, $1 for associate members, and nothing for honorary members. Active members were professional librarians, while associate members were paraprofessionals. Later in 1964, the associate category was eliminated and only one level of active membership was established.

Initially, meetings were held four times a year to increase training and learning opportunities. The name was changed to Florida Medical Librarians in 1967 and the meetings were reduced to three times a year. In 1970 the number of meetings was reduced to two per year, and in 1979, one annual meeting was established with a more formal program and a CE class/workshop format. In 1982, the name of the organization changed a third time to the Florida Health Sciences Library Association to support a broadening of its membership base and focus.

In keeping with its early direction towards resource sharing, the group supported regional union list activities, consortia development and participation in regional medical library programs such as the Hospital Library Consultants Registry, and a planning process for state-wide delivery of medical library services and professional development for its members in the 1980's. The FHSLA ALERT, the official newsletter was first established in 1984. Its editorial and distribution responsibilities have rotated between the three medical school libraries in the state. Annual meetings have rotated between these three regions for variety and are supported by the medical school librarians and hospital library staff in the areas, including outstanding meetings in Palm Beach and Disneyworld.