HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE IDAHO HEALTH SCIENCES LIBRARY
During the 1991-92 academic year, the Idaho Drug Information Service (IDIS) of the Idaho State University College of Pharmacy joined with Bannock Regional Medical Center (BRMC) and Pocatello Regional Medical Center (PRMC) to form the Idaho Health Sciences Information Center. This was the precursor to the Idaho Health Sciences Library (IHSL). The university library assumed responsibility for offering specialized information services to the local medical community when the IHSL formally opened on September 1, 1992, under the direction of Terry Wiggins. Journal holdings of the two hospitals and the IDIS were integrated into the Idaho State University Library collection. Staff began visiting both BRMC and PRMC on a regular basis in order to meet with hospital staff and physicians.
This partnership enabled the IHSL to offer the local and regional medical community benefits which none of the members alone could achieve. For example, a collection of over 500 current medical professional journals was on hand. ISU Library staff supplied prompt cataloging and processing of new acquisitions. The collection was supplemented by participation in cooperative resource lending and sharing arrangements with other libraries via the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Trained, professional medical librarians were available to respond to information needs, including mediated literature searches for health professionals. The ISU Library building provided spacious areas for research and study, as well as space for classroom instruction and meetings.
An advisory committee was established to provide input from the collaborating partners, members of the ISU faculty, and the local medical community. This ensured the IHSL was responsive to its patrons’ needs. By May 1993 a major renovation was completed which provided the IHSL with facilities on the ISU Library’s third floor. The new arrangement had ample space and proximity to medical journals and the IDIS. It gave the IHSL a clear identity within the ISU Library and was an attractive and convenient facility.
On April 21, 1994, an IHSL mission statement was formally approved: To advance health education, research, and patient care by providing publication-based information to the university community, Idaho health care providers, and consumers. It should be noted that the last group of patrons was added only last year to reflect the IHSL’s increased outreach to the community. The same year State Hospital South in Blackfoot was formally added to the partnership. A collection development policy was written in 1995 and the IHSL established an e-mail account (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the convenience of patrons.
Second, the libraries’ instruction programs grew steadily, offering workshops for classes in the various health-related majors including those at distance learning centers. These classes were tailored to meet specific needs of individual courses. Staff members also prepared pathfinders designed to introduce patrons to some of the subject-specific literature available here. Now these are available on the Web at http://www.isu.edu/library/ihsl/pubs.htm#guides.
ISHL as Resource Library
The IHSL began publishing a newsletter, the Liaison, in the Summer of 1993. For several years this was mailed to over 1000 individuals and agencies. It is now available to anyone on the Web at http://www.isu.edu/library/ihsl/pubs.htm, beginning with volume 6, number 2 (Fall, 1999). Additionally, a consumer health resource guidewas developed. Its is available at http://www.isu.edu/library/ihsl/consguid.htm. More recently, two subcontracts from the National Library of Medicine have enabled us to extend our outreach efforts by partnering first with Community and Migrant Health Centers in medically underserved areas, and then with public libraries in southeast Idaho.
and Materials Adapt to Times
During the winter of 1997-98 ISHL staff surveyed physicians to determine their levels of satisfaction with its services. They wanted to determine if the IHSL's provision of knowledge-based information resources had any impact on clinical decisions. Results were very favorable; a summary was published in the Winter 1998-99 issue of the Liaison. (Printed copies are available from the IHSL.)
Meanwhile, on June 26, 1997, the National Library of Medicine announced that it was making MEDLINE, in a new format called PubMed, available free to anyone who has access to the Internet. This revolutionized usage, which increased enormously. Health professionals soon exhibited a much stronger tendency than they had previously to perform their own searches. Consumers began using the database in unprecedented numbers.
In the library requests for mediated searches declined, but it became apparent that the need for special training was increasing. Soon librarians heard a predictable demand for full-text electronic resources. The IHSL established a web site in 1998, created and maintained by Marcia Francis. It includes an extensive list of health sciences e-journals available at the ISU Library (http://www.isu.edu/library/ihsl/ejournal.htm). Access to some is limited in one way or another because of restrictions imposed by the publishers.
In January 1999, BRMC notified the ISHL that it was withdrawing from the partnership. PRMC and State Hospital South chose to continue on a fee-for-service basis. This resulted in a change in staff work emphasis and allowed staff to devote more time to consumer health education efforts, to electronic journal issues, and to an increased demand on library instruction. The IHSL has supported the health programs on campus and at extended sites as they have grown both in numbers and in size.
The IHSL received a generous donation in December, 1999, for the purpose of establishing an endowment in memory of Bart Pulling. Dr. Pulling was a true friend of the library and is missed by library staff. The income generated by this fund will be used to enrich library holdings. Those wishing to make a contribution to ISU are invited to add to this endowment. Interested donors may call the ISU Foundation office at 208-282-3470.
Second, given the demand for full-text electronic journals, librarians accept the fact that they must grapple with the associated issues and the extra work e-journals require. They are convenient for local patrons and are critical for distance students. But, as IHSL staff member, Kristi Austin, said, “You have to stumble across them in cyberspace --- and hope that they’ll be there tomorrow.”
The ISU Library now houses a collection of about 830 current health sciences journals, some in paper only and some in both paper and electronic format. Access is provided to additional titles in electronic format only and the library will continue to make the transition. It is necessary to be cautious because is this an extremely volatile situation. The library will continue to archive paper journals because of the conviction that this is important to health professionals in Idaho.
Third, the IHSL will continue outreach to health consumers.
In order to facilitate this, staff hopes to strengthen partnerships
with public libraries, to participate in local health fairs and to work
with various health organizations and support groups.
Fourth, IHSL librarians are currently looking into the possibility
of offering for-credit courses in health information on the Internet
during the summer for Idaho teachers.