In Their Words: MedLibs

by Karen Hendricks / 14 April 2016 / No Comments

About two years ago, there was a movement towards creating a universal hashtag, #medlibs, to spark discussions, the sharing of information between, and recognition of the vital profession of medical librarians. Today, it is easy to find #medlibs discussions throughout Twitter and all social media platforms. Many medical librarians readily share their advice, insights, and information.

Today, we spotlight three #medlibs who share their thoughts on the HSLANJ Group Licensing Initiative, which currently is offering 500+ resources from 13 high-quality, respected publishers, at a cost savings of 15-70% off retail pricing.

What benefits or strengths do you feel were most important in your decision to participate in the HSLANJ GLI?

Actually this is my first year participating (Fall 2015), but I’ve been aware of it for the past four years that I’ve known Robb Mackes.

I think as a librarian it actually saves you the time of negotiating with vendors on pricing. That’s a big thing. Also Robb has the right contacts at the right publishers and that’s extremely important on the technical side. Also it has a nice variety of products available for group licensing, so it’s nice to deal with one person for all these various products. Robb is great at troubleshooting various problems… if you encounter a glitch (with electronic journals), he’s good at handling that. He speaks to administrators in a language they understand—Robb has a way of explaining how electronic licensing, databases, and ejournals work, especially when you’re proposing an increase in your budget or you want to sign up with HSLANJ.

Ann Marie Zglinicki, MS, Manager – Library Services, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital

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What challenges do you face as a medical librarian and how does the GLI help you meet those challenges?

Some of the challenges I have here may not apply to everyone. I’m a solo librarian. The way we do ordering, licensing, and contracting is a slow, tedious process. If I could order everything through HSLANJ with one-stop shopping then it would help me save time and money. There are so many contracts to keep up with internally—that’s the biggest challenge for me because I’m busy.

I like the idea of ordering everything through HSLANJ GLI because it would be less administrative work. Robb Mackes knows what he’s doing, to have someone like him helping me… it’s valuable. Another good thing–it’s a motivational thing. Participating in the GLI is a way for a library to get more resources. I like HSLANJ and the idea of resource sharing… I see that as the future of library resources because they’re so expensive. I think it’s the way to go. The more consortiums a library can be a part of, without spending more money… you can get more resources with your budget.

Lisa Block, MLIS, Medical Librarian, Atlanta Medical Center, Atlanta, GA


Can you speak to the value of electronic resources?

Electronic resources have opened up a whole new world, because you can serve a wider audience—resources are more accessible. The difference we see as librarians is the increased cost. Publishers are profit-making enterprisers. What they would charge for an electronic subscription is a lot more than a print subscription. With electronic subscriptions all these people can look at it, so the cost is very difficult to deal with.

The other part you have to be cognizant about… sometimes publishers will give you a backlog of five years (of journals), then change to two years. Electronic is basically rental over ownership. You’re really renting that journal for a period of time and if you can’t afford it, you could lose back issues. You really need to read the licenses, be aware of the different rules for each journal… it’s a little more complicated.

We are moving toward electronic which causes an increase in budget. Electronic journals and databases are quite costly. But electronic journals are quick, you can get PDFs, you can email them immediately. There’s an immediacy there.

Ann Marie Zglinicki, MS, Manager – Library Services, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital

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Describe your overall experience, participating in the HSLANJ GLI:

The overall experience has been very positive. The customer service is awesome–if I have a question I email Robb, and if he doesn’t get back to me someone else does within 24 hours.

As a medical librarian, you learn something new every day—you help make an impact on patient care… By utilizing the HSLANJ GLI, it not only saves us money but it saves us time. It would be challenging to find enough time to negotiate prices and do it all (ourselves).

Donna Winkelman, Medical Librarian, Saratoga Hospital, Saratoga Springs NY