How we decide what to buy for the RCPsych Library
12 May, 2020
by Shaun Kennedy, Information and Knowledge Assistant and Fiona Watson, Library and Archives Manager.
These days accessing the research you need is easier than it has ever been before. We often hear ‘everything is just one click away!’ It is certainly true that today’s technological advances have stood us in excellent stead to manage the COVID19 crisis and resulting lockdown better than we ever could have done before.
On the other hand, we are all familiar with the frustration of expecting the internet to give us access to everything we need only to be disappointed. We run into requests to pay, error messages and links that go nowhere, often going round in circles for what seems like ages before giving up. Sadly, the fact that the research we need is online, doesn’t mean we have the right to access it. Someone, somewhere, must pay for research to be made available.
In this blog we are thinking about the resources that the College Library pays to make available to its members. But all libraries have to contend with an ever-increasing body of research that people may need, and a limited budget.
So how do we decide what to buy?
This varies between different kinds of resources. Paper books are the cheapest and, generally speaking, we can buy whatever a member requests. On the opposite end of the scale end are databases; there aren’t that many relevant to psychiatry and they generally cost between six and thirty thousand pounds depending on the level of full text access they provide and the number of people signed up to the Library. Therefore they constitute a fairly fixed item in the budget.
The journals, however, are constantly under review and a number of factors are considered: cost, relevance to members and usage. Every autumn, the current journal subscriptions are reviewed, and some will be removed due to low usage or massive price jumps from the publishers. We will then have a section of the budget that can be used to subscribe to new content. While the librarians can evaluate the journals based on usage, we don’t have the insight necessary to decide what will be most useful to members.
This is where the Virtual Library Committee (VLC) plays an important role. Made up of members from the different faculties, plus trainees and representatives from the College's Special Interest Groups (SIGs), it provides the insight into what members across the board need from their Library. Suggestions are solicited from publishers, members, faculties and SIGs. The Librarian then arranges for quotes from the publisher. These are based on expected numbers of members who will access them over the coming year. These figures are then presented to the VLC who decide what to buy with the available funds.
Recently, the addition of the two journals (Academic Psychiatry and Molecular Psychiatry) and a collection of ebooks, which are now available to members, has been made available due to the deliberations of the VLC. The VLC has an open agenda so any queries or issues are welcome and can be sent for discussion. This is a collaboration and all feedback is very welcome.
If you would like to join the VLC, or just know more about it, please send an email to email@example.com.