Eleven years ago I joined the College’s Medical Library Service. I found a unique cross-provincial service with a dedicated staff, strong collection, and a diverse user group who appreciated the value of a good library. The library was used by over 40% of the College membership every year, an astounding level of use relative to other libraries of any kind. It became clear to me that even more members benefited indirectly through consultation with those that did use MLS and through using the hospital libraries supported by MLS. The library had been using the Internet since the 1970s for literature searching and has maintained a single electronic mail account for communicating with other libraries. Since then, the rest of the world, including BC doctors, discovered the Internet, e-mail, and the World Wide Web. Access to medical information has changed rapidly, with books and journals in electronic format increasingly an option. Literature searching via MEDLINE on the web is regularly a part of patient care. The Internet has shown the value of basing what is done on what is known. As this premise has always supported the operation of MLS, MLS services are emulated increasingly.
In September, I become the head of the Health Sciences and Osler Libraries at McGill University in Montréal. The scope of my work will change and broaden to include researchers and students as well as clinicians. I will be grateful if the support at McGill is as broad and the use as sophisticated as that of BC College members. I know change in information access will continue and MLS will remain a unique and innovative service with strong user support developed with expert, dedicated staff.
Support of medical libraries is a tradition among BC physicians. Early in the 20th century, BC doctors, understanding the importance of published information to clinical practice, established library services. In 1960, the vision and imagination of several BC doctors and my predecessor, Bill Fraser, transformed the Vancouver Medical Association Library into the College’s Medical Library Service. It was a revelation for me when I understood the functioning of the hospital library network, a service efficiently covering a large region. It allows MLS to deliver both expert service directly from the central facility and immediate local access indirectly via community facilities across the province. While what is done has changed since 1991, the structure remains the same: individual doctors and hospital staff members responsible for the libraries in their communities supported by and backed up with services and expertise of MLS staff. Regular communication and in-person visits keep the network functioning. In recent studies of library outreach to remote and isolated communities, it has been found that a structure like that created for MLS by BC doctors in 1960 is the most effective. As well as appreciating these concepts, I am grateful for the human side of this equation: the many doctors and hospital staff who have welcomed me to their communities, made the arrangements for meetings and workshops, and collaborated in developing local services and resources. These concepts and the kindness and abilities of those that have worked with me in applying them will remain a strong influence in my life and work.
It has given me pleasure and satisfaction to come to know and collaborate with so many different people while at MLS. I would like to thank all College members, the College Council, and the College Registrar and his staff for supporting the library for an extended period. Special thanks to members of the College’s Library Committee, who have provided support and guidance, balancing the needs of the College with the expectations and needs of individual users and library staff. I greatly appreciate the initiative and collaborative spirit of BC and Pacific Northwest health librarians that has made much happen in these 11 years. I would like to express my gratitude to the MLS staff who first showed me the meaning of dedication and collaboration and then supported me through this period of great change.
Financing the library has been increasingly difficult. Just after I joined MLS in 1991, the library began paying rent for commercial space to give the College room to grow. The continuing fall in the Canadian dollar has hit MLS particularly hard since the publications and services we purchase are largely produced in the US. The US dollar cost $1.20 when I started and now costs $1.60. Journal prices increased every year an average of 10%, well above the general rate of inflation. It has been, and will continue to be, necessary to pay for overlapping services. The costs of new technology have been absorbed while existing services are maintained. New initiatives such as the DOCLINE interlibrary loan system, Cites & Bytes, the web site, MDConsult, electronic transmission of articles, the online catalogue and Internet training have been undertaken while keeping increases to the library’s budget to a minimum. In spite of these pressures, the cost of MLS as a percentage of College membership dues fell below 20% in 1992 and has remained close to 15%, including rent, since then.
With these financial thoughts in mind, I leave you with an idea and a possibility. For simplicity, I have maintained a separate personal VISA card for MLS work, especially travel but for some book purchases too, which earned points. In canceling it, I cashed in points for $800 in guaranteed investment certificates to seed an endowment fund for MLS. The idea of a BC Medical Library Foundation could be investigated to enable tax deductions for donations and to relieve the College of some of the responsibility for supporting the library. This arrangement would reflect the benefits that MLS provides to health care in BC. Because their doctors use MLS, the citizens of BC receive up-to-date, quality care. Library services to health professionals other than doctors are better because of the work MLS does coordinating health library services across the province.
The MLS catalogue online: szasz.mls.cpsbc.ca
The MLS catalogue is now available via the web. Connect to http://szasz.mls.cpsbc.ca to find if the College Library has a book or video, or, soon, a journal or an audiocassette series as we add to our holdings gradually. An account has been created for each College member to allow individuals to review their loan history and recommend books. Request material online through the “Hold” function using your account name and password. To check the holdings of other libraries, such as UBC (MLS picks up from UBC three times a week), use the cryptically named Z39.50 function. If you have not already received your account, contact the Library.
The web address honors Dr George Szasz, CM. Dr Szasz was a member of the Library Committee from 1960 to 2001. It recognizes his understanding of importance of the Library’s enduring values as well as new opportunities provided by new technology for improving the accessibility of the Library to College members. The significance of Dr Szasz’s contributions to the Library are outlined in the December 2001 BCMJ.
Clinics series in MDConsult listed by title
Browsing journals in MDConsult is difficult, so a link via PubMed to tables of contents of individual issues has been provided at www.mls.cpsbc.ca/JOURNALS/JnlsClinics.htm. Once connected, look for the LinkOut button: upper right in the author display, reached from the brief title display by clicking on the blue underlined authors’ names. From the LinkOut display, click on the MDConsult link offered. You will be prompted for your MDConsult user name and password and then connected to the full text of the article. If you do not yet have your free MDConsult account, contact the Library.
Medical Library Service
College of Physicians &
Surgeons of BC
Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee
of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.
BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:
- Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
- There is no period after the journal name.
- Page numbers are not abbreviated.
For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org