Medical libraries and their usage – faculty and librarians need to work together!

Medical libraries and their usage – faculty and librarians need to work together!

In institutions with libraries, the librarians are expected to provide statistics of usage. Budgets are often pruned if there is a decreased trend in use and alarmingly some libraries are closed down.

What is “library usage” today? Not any more should one measure this only by footfalls (number of people visiting a library) or by number of items borrowed. Libraries are centres in an institution, and it is through these centres that access to online resources is purchased and enabled. It is by overall usage of a number of resources. Again not only by downloads but by what happens with material downloaded. Has the research output increased? Are subscribed resources cited? And many more factors.

Who is responsible for the usage of library resources? Very often I hear people complaining that people do not use the library. While it is important for librarians (today also called information managers) to do their bit to market the library resources, teach their usage and more, it is as important for faculty in institutions to make sure that students are made responsible to use library resources

When I was a BSc student we were told that we could not submit the journals in which we recorded our practical exercises without reading at least three books and citing them correctly. If we could do this much in a BSc course, isn’t it important that students of health sciences are made to do this too? Once it is mandated, usage follows. As I again emphasize – it is not about physically going to the library – it is about using what is available through library subscriptions.

Many students and faculty have mentioned lack of access to databases / journals and when I ask “Have you checked with your librarian about access and interlibrary loans, the answer is usually negative. If faculty themselves are unaware, how would residents and students know?

We need lots more of “working together” to ensure a return of investment made in library resources

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