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A Message from the RML Director: Spring 2010

Springtime in the Midwest is always a surprise, as if winter will become permanent rather than an attention-grabbing phase of the annual cycle. The cold and the dark recede; still we cling stubbornly to our coats, scarves, and gloves, just in case.

The chilly climate continues to be an apt metaphor for the programmatic chill of current economic conditions on our libraries and home institutions. At the same time, new ideas, new partnerships, and bold decisions encourage focus and allow for growth in our priorities.

Consortial licensing of e-journals, e-books, and databases has potential to reduce subscription cost and improve purchasing efficiency for the GMR membership. The E-Licensing Working Group of the GMR Regional Advisory Council (RAC) continues to work with the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (formerly the Michigan Library Consortium) on identifying group purchasing opportunities. The E-Licensing Working Group drafted a member survey that will be distributed in April to gather feedback on participation and interest in the various packages.

Collaborative ventures reduce the impact of economic shortfalls and changing programmatic priorities by distributing the workload as well as reducing costs. When we met with Resource Library directors in September 2009 and in small group discussions since, many commented on space constraints related to legacy print collections and increasing interest in re-purposing library stack space for other library or campus uses. Linda Watson, University of Minnesota, and Jane Blumenthal, University of Michigan, proposed that GMR gain a better understanding of these issues and begin a conversation about cooperative preservation within the region. The result is a survey of practices and concerns, as well as interest in expanding the conversation to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), a long-standing collaborative of Midwest universities. The survey was distributed and is due in March.

Support in the form of networking, professional development, and training is also vital to offer during hard times. In the last blog message, I mentioned that the GMR was able to increase the amount of the stipend for Outreach Libraries to $4,000 per year. In addition to the quarterly webinars for Outreach Librarians, the GMR hosted a two-day seminar in March that featured courses taught by Susan Barnes of the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC). Susan also facilitated a discussion on the services and resources of the OERC. Susan also taught Community Assessment, along with GMR coordinator, Jacqueline Leskovec; and Data Collection for Health Information Outreach. The seminar setting stimulated idea exchange among experienced outreach librarians and those new to the field.

In 2009, the GMR announced a new subcontract with an important purpose: to assess the impact of GMR funding on the ability of our members to perform outreach activities that advance the goals of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. This subcontract, targeted to schools of library and information science, also had the goal of introducing library school students to health sciences librarianship, in particular the importance of outreach to health professionals and consumers, and to research methods. The $40,000 subcontract was awarded to the University of Kentucky School of Library and Information Science.

The GMR continues to support members’ consumer health initiatives with GMR and NLM classes and presentations, delivering them through face-to-face interactions, webinars, and pod casts. A full calendar of exhibits helps leverage the efforts of GMR members to reach health information professionals as well as the public at large.

Funding is an especially effective way to support the GMR membership. We continue to offer Electronic Funds Transfer System (EFTS) Awards to 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.  FYI, the GMR now uses Microsoft Word as the preferred approach for applying for awards, since the online forms did not work for all institutions.

Finally, on behalf of GMR, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to the libraries that served as Go Local leaders during the past several years. You took on a demanding assignment for the good of all and delivered what you promised. Your leadership inspires all of us.

I look forward to talking with you at MLA and as our activities bring us together.

Stay warm until summer arrives!

Kate Carpenter
Director, Greater Midwest Regional Medical Library

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