Greetings of the Season to the GMR Membership!
Urban or rural, the Midwest sparkles during the winter months. The twinkle of holiday lights in the city or the wink of stars over a chill landscape, both are a source of well-being and delight at this time of year.
A positive view of winter is good preparation for a positive outlook on the current economic state of affairs affecting health sciences and hospital libraries in GMR.
Economic conditions and their impact continue to be a focus for the GMR membership. At the GMR Town Hall meeting at the MC/MLA Conference in October 2009, our members were eager to participate in the development of a region-wide licensing consortium that the E-licensing Working Group of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) is pursuing. The Michigan Library Consortium may be able to provide a template as well as serve as an agent for consortial licensing by hospital and smaller academic libraries.
During hard times, external funding is even more critical for outreach and support to community based organizations, consumers, and library users. The GMR was able to increase the amount of the stipend for Outreach Libraries to $4,000 per year. The GMR staff also provided training, tools, and information to Outreach Librarians and enhanced their effectiveness in creating and implementing outreach activities via a Webinar series. In return, the Outreach Librarians graciously shared information about their projects, exhibits, and websites for the benefit of their peers.
The GMR also offered Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS) Awards for the first time this year. These awards enable hospital libraries to demonstrate to their administrators the value of EFTS for their institutions and to secure ongoing institutional funding to continue their participation after the initial funding is used.
We are also investigating how to streamline subcontract and award procedures as an incentive to members who have ideas for projects but may lack staff resources for an elaborate application process. Another exciting project in process is the Outreach Impact Study, which is a subcontract to plan and carry out a study on the impact of GMR funding on the ability of members to perform outreach that advances the goals of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. We are reviewing the proposals that we received by the November 10, 2009, deadline, and will make an announcement soon.
Our Resource Libraries also continued to face austere conditions this year. At the Resource Library Directors’ meeting in September 2009, most directors reported having flat budgets or outright cuts that ranged from 3% to 15%. Hiring freezes and position eliminations are in effect at many institutions. Private institutions rely to a greater extent than previously on their endowments. A number of institutions are reclaiming library space for classrooms and other uses, and at some, functional areas such as ILL are being merged with similar general library operations.
Our circumstances are not all gloom and doom, of course. In addition to program development in Outreach and expansion of subcontract funding, trends in ILL organization provide us with an opportunity to examine the “state of the art” in ILL and document delivery. The GMR will convene an ILL task force to review trends, issues, and factors that affect ILL services and to pursue ways to improve this essential function. Emergency preparedness efforts are enhancing the ability of all GMR members to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergency circumstances.
The ongoing advocacy and organizational initiatives of the RAC Working Groups are also a source of strength and opportunity for the GMR membership. The RAC met in Chicago in September 2009. The Emergency Preparedness group created a number of tools, including a poster and a new 10 Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning class, to promote this initiative to a broad audience. The Advocacy working group compiled a letter for hospital administrators that focused on the importance of health literacy and evidence based practice that the hospital library promotes. The Communications Working group will construct an “elevator speech” on GMR funding opportunities and encourage State representatives to report their activities in The Cornflower. The Consumer Health and Public Health groups both intend to work on websites that bring resources together in a convenient location.
Most exciting, however, is the opportunity for growth, support, and impact that the new contract for 2011-2016 will offer to the GMR membership. The GMR staff has been gathering input, ideas, and advice for the next stage of services and initiatives that the National Network of Libraries of Medicine will offer. Soon we will have the opportunity to put your feedback to work, providing leadership and support to achieve your aspirations and fulfill your needs as you serve and support health professionals and consumers with information resources and services.
I truly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with so many of you in the past year.
Season’s Greetings from the GMR and Happy Holidays to all!
Director, Greater Midwest Regional Medical Library Network