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. (more…)