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Happy Holidays to all our members and friends!

The holiday preparations look especially bright and appealing this year, perhaps in contrast to the blanketing of snow that we have enjoyed so far this winter. Economic reports for retail are improving, with expenditures five percent above what they were at this time last year.

The positive trend for holiday shopping is good news for consumers and the businesses that cater to their wants and needs. Unfortunately, such a positive view cannot be transferred to the current economic state of affairs affecting health sciences and hospital libraries in the GMR, especially in our publicly funded institutions.  Revenue shortfalls at the state and local level are having a significant impact on staffing and accessibility of information resources at our member organizations.

In addition to position elimination, ongoing hiring freezes, and non–renewal of licenses and subscriptions, institutions are showing the strain by reorganizing and combining libraries and their constituent units and by repurposing space for non-library, revenue-producing functions.  Such strategies reduce the accessibility of information resources.  For example, when the ILL unit is combined with its general university counterpart, the importance of using DOCLINE for transacting ILL and of keeping SERHOLD records up-to-date to facilitate DOCLINE may diminish.  When library stacks are repurposed for patient or student functions, legacy print collections may be the first to go to free up space for these new functions.

The GMR is attempting to take a proactive stance to soften the long-term impact of reduced budgets on our membership. The E-licensing Working Group of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC), in collaboration with the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services serving as agent for consortial licensing by hospital and smaller academic libraries, identified two candidates for selection in 2010. The GMR convened an ILL task force to review trends, issues, and factors that affect ILL services and to make recommendations on ways to improve this essential function. The task force met with NLM representatives to convey their suggestions for DOCLINE enhancements.

A task force on preservation of legacy print collections began looking at the issues related to collaborating locally, regionally, and nationally to retain print holdings.  The group was charged to identify a SERHOLD data set that would provide the most useful information on holdings, to determine how to analyze this SERHOLD data and the results obtained in a Resource Library questionnaire on print decisions, to conduct focus group interviews with Resource Libraries and selected other institutions, and to make recommendations for a print preservation program for the 2011-2016 contract period.  The Resource Library questionnaire addressed pressures to reduce or repurpose space, access to remote storage, extent of local discussions on space and collections, as well as print reduction projects, cooperative retention projects, digitization projects, and collection retention policies and principles specific to their institutions.  The initial results indicate that collections are discarded (or retained) according to local needs and interests and that it is difficult to identify a data set to serve as foundation for cooperative planning.

The Regional Advisory Council (RAC) met in Chicago in December 2010.  A symposium on the electronic health record (EHR) and librarians offered a substantive orientation to issues attendant to selecting a vendor and a system certified for meaningful use, implementation and project management, and practice and workflow management.

David Sweet, Library Manager, American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) spoke about the Regional Extension Centers (RECs) and their role in helping physicians, as well as how AHIMA is supporting the RECs. Allison Vance, Member Communication Manager, American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) addressed “Using new digital resources to promote and understand PHRs.” She talked about presenting the Personal Health Record in the context of health literacy initiatives. Maxine L. Rockoff, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University, spoke on “The Implementation of a Patient Portal and MedlinePlus Connect in a Low-Income Population,” specifically the Institute for Family Health, a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers in Manhattan, the Bronx, and the Mid-Hudson Valley. And, Joyce Backus, Deputy Chief, Public Services Division, National Library of Medicine, addressed “MedlinePlus Connect: Linking patients to health information.”

The UIC Library of the Health Sciences (LHS) also offered a workshop in conjunction with the RAC meeting on December 7th, entitled Library in Your Pocket. The 4-hour CE offering highlighted trends in the use of mobile devices and a hands-on opportunity to create a demo mobile site.

The staff at the GMR have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities we have had in the past year to work collaboratively with you to improve resources and services on behalf of all health professionals and consumers.  We have thoroughly enjoyed being of service to you in performing this important work.

Best wishes for a beautiful Holiday season and a peaceful New Year.

Kate Carpenter
Director, Greater Midwest Regional Medical Library Network

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