EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

A blog for medical students, faculty and librarians about their use of evidence based medicine, clinical literature, Web 2.0, sources and search strategies

News, Academic-Health Science Libraries, Collection Management: Ruminations about Reference (Part 1)

Here’s an example of what I’ve been looking at all  week . month:


Photo credit/Source: http://www.oclc.org/us/en/default.htm – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


March is the month to turn towards the annual task of updating the Reference collection in the library (which is my responsibility).  The graduate students have their Spring Break this week, so it’s a good time to tackle this project.

When you were a little kid, did you hang around in the library, looking at books with no particular plan for researching anything specific? Maybe only born researchers or born librarians do that!   8)

Now as a grown up librarian, it is still amazing to me the diversity of information that one can stumble over while on the way to looking something else entirely unrelated.  Browsing and serendipity can play a part in pursuing research whether you’re surfing the net or standing in the book stacks, holding an actual book.

Librarians do hear this phrase occasionally: “If it’s not online, I don’t want it.”  A recent observation (in my problem-based learning class) is that this generation of Milleniums much prefer their research information online… and who are reluctant to walk into the “bricks and mortar” library to find a textbook in print.

As collection managers and archivists, one of our major responsibilities is to deliver current library materials and services in the manner in which our patrons best like to “consume” them.  The shift from print to digital access does impact how librarians select (and store) their core collections.

A complex mix of collection management decisions weigh format and availability versus price and expected (potential or future) usage which also roughly indexes the librarians’ expectation about the longevity or lasting value of the material.

Thrown into these choices: Collection budgets (which are shrinking), and what our students, clinicians, pharmacists and the general library users prefer to use (print or online). Luckily, in this library there are librarians with decades of experience to muse with these decisions… and thanks for the advice, AD!

In other words, does it make better sense to buy one (physical, paper) textbook produced in 2009 for $450 (for example) when you could, as as alternative, purchase an electronic, perpetual version of the work for $1,000 which can be read simultaneously by up to five online readers and whose clinical content is updated monthly?  Collection management, a bit like the practice of medicine, is both an art and a science.

The goal is to select the most cost-effective means to provide the essential resources needed by your particular community.  As the migration of library collections continues away from print to digital access (i.e., always on, never checked out, 24 x 7 x 365 days per week…  provided that the network is up and running), the next post in this series will explore concerns and decisions that academic-medical librarians in 2009 need to balance in order to offer the most complete collections available.


I would like to welcome our newest reference librarian – JK -to the health science library this week.

We are so glad you joined us!


One response to “News, Academic-Health Science Libraries, Collection Management: Ruminations about Reference (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Follow The Librarians! « Advocate’s Studio

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