Developing an Academic Medical Library Core Journal Collection in the (Almost) Post-Print Era: The Florida State University College of Medicine Medical Library Experience

By Shearer, Barbara S.; Nagy, Suzanne P. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Developing an Academic Medical Library Core Journal Collection in the (Almost) Post-Print Era: The Florida State University College of Medicine Medical Library Experience


Shearer, Barbara S., Nagy, Suzanne P., Journal of the Medical Library Association


The Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine Medical Library is the first academic medical library to be established since the Web's dramatic appearance during the 1990s. A large customer base for electronic medical information resources is both comfortable with and eager to migrate to the electronic format completely, and vendors are designing radical pricing models that make print journal cancellations economically advantageous. In this (almost) post-print environment, the new FSU Medical Library is being created and will continue to evolve. By analyzing print journal subscription lists of eighteen academic medical libraries with similar missions to the community-based FSU College of Medicine and by entering these and selected quality indicators into a Microsoft Access database, a core list was created. This list serves as a selection guide, as a point for discussion with faculty and curriculum leaders when creating budgets, and for financial negotiations in a broader university environment. After journal titles specific to allied health sciences, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, library science, and nursing were eliminated from the list, 4,225 unique journal titles emerged. Based on a ten-point scale including SERHOLD holdings and DOCLINE borrowing activity, a list of 449 core titles is identified. The core list has been saved in spreadsheet format for easy sorting by a number of parameters.

OVERVIEW

The Internet, once the domain of high-tech academic and government researchers, has only recently begun to fulfill expectations of medical researchers and information seekers in delivering quality medical information to the desktop. Although long a topic for discussion, it has been only within the last two to three years that library users have been able to access a critical mass of literature in high-quality format via Web interfaces or email. In addition, a large customer base is comfortable with migrating to electronic journals completely and a variety of pricing models have been designed to make this possible.

Though professional society publishers are still struggling with the likelihood of individual subscription cancellations if electronic journals are delivered via campuswide Internet protocol (IP) ranges, large publishers are now taking dramatic steps to capture and hold the electronic journal market. These publishers make it more cost-effective for academic libraries to cancel print versions in favor of electronic versions and to create consortia to share electronic journal budgets much as libraries have done in sharing print journal collections via interlibrary loan arrangements. This aggressive strategy by publishers has generated a degree of anxiety among librarians who are concerned that electronic journal subscription rates will increase beyond the limits of affordability once libraries have cancelled print subscriptions.

Questions not asked or necessary to ask in the past are now pressing and require a proactive and responsive approach by the library community. These questions include issues surrounding definitions of core collections and methods for securely archiving costly intellectual property. What does access versus ownership really mean in the twenty-first century library? Has electronic access to the literature changed the way scholarship is conducted? Is an immediately accessible journal viewed differently in terms of quality than one that is more difficult to obtain? What effect are new pricing models and consortium agreements having on the historically independent financial and organizational cultures found in many academic medical libraries?

In this (almost) post-print environment, the Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine (COM) Medical Library is being developed. Some of the challenges faced by established libraries wrestling with new pricing models for journals do not exist for a library without a history. The opportunity to look at the collection development process anew has been welcomed by the FSU COM. …

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