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Rebuilding After Typhoon Sudal: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Funds Yap State Hospital Medical Library

Submitted by Alice E. Hadley, Librarian
U.S. Naval Hospital, Guam
Condensed and edited for publication in Latitudes

On the tiny island of Yap in the far western Pacific, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, working together with Guam’s Ayuda Foundation, funded a project to establish the new Yap State Hospital Medical Library to replace the one destroyed in Typhoon Sudal in 2004. Librarians Arlene Cohen and Alice Hadley of Guam worked with Drs. Mark Durand and Thane Hancock; Medical Library Manager Charlene Laamtal; and Daisy Gilmatam, the Information Technology Technician at the Yap State Hospital to create this new facility.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant covered the purchase of 250 books, cataloging for the books, library management software, a PowerPoint projector and screen, three computers, two printers, as well as the construction of bookcases and computer desks. In addition, Richard Sher of Gaylord, a library supply company, donated a two-drawer catalog and various library supplies.

Land of Stoney Money PhotoYap, called The Land of Stone Money, is one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Although the FSM is a foreign country, it has a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Consequently, the US dollar is the currency and the US Postal Service charges the same price as shipping to Hawaii (although much slower). There were many problems with arranging shipping as very large companies often have rigid shipping requirements when shipping to a foreign country. Their systems often cannot provide the customs paperwork needed when using the United States Postal Service or do not even allow the use of the system. This special handling added almost 20% to the cost of shipping.

Yap Training Session PhotoDuring the first week of April 2008, Hadley and Cohen traveled to Yap to set up the physical library, a card catalog, and an online catalog, and provided training to the library manager on using the library management software and how to run a library. Training was also presented to almost one-third of the hospital staff on using PubMed and accessing quality health information in the physical library as well as the Internet. They plan to return in November 2008 to provide follow up training for the library manager, and additional staff training on using PubMed and other online resources.

Yap State Hospital has 36 in-patient beds and 12 doctors (including one surgeon and one anesthesiologist), and serves both the island of Yap (population 8,000) and the inhabited outer islands (population 4,000). The new medical library is centrally located near the administrative offices and the medical records room in the out-patient department wing. There is an office computer for the library manager and four public access computers with filtered Internet access. Internet access is slow, but it allows the staff to access online resources including a subscription to almost 70 textbooks in STAT!Ref and hundreds of full-text journals on EBSCO through subscriptions paid for by Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). The library has a PubMed “My NCBI” account that provides tabbed search results with tabs for English language articles and free full-text making it easier for the staff to find articles they can use.

Alice and Charlene PhotoWhile on Yap, Hadley and Cohen also helped the Yap State Public Library manager install and use the same library management software package at the newly renovated public library, also destroyed by Typhoon Sudal in 2004. They also brought together Laamtal and Gilmatam from the Yap State Hospital with Isabel Rungrad, of the Yap State Public Library so they could share information between the two libraries about using the software. Before the end of the visit, both were not just sharing expertise, but books and library supplies as well.

Finally, in preparation for the Pacific Islands Association of Libraries and Archives (PIALA) annual conference to be held in Yap on November 17-22, 2008, Hadley and Cohen met with the newly formed Yap State Library Association to work on the association’s by-laws and preparations for the PIALA Conference.

Editor’s Note: I wish to thank Arlene Cohen for supplying the photographs for this article.

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