October 4, 2007

Calling all health system librarians…

Posted in Library Adminstration at 1:25 pm by Alexia

Are you a librarian working in a hospital that is part of a larger “health system”?  If so, we need to talk.  There is an idea floating around our system that a centralized library would save the system money.  There are so many reasons that won’t work but that isn’t the purpose of this post.  The librarians in the system which MPOW is a part of have already done a good job of group purchasing when we can to save us money, but not all vendors give you a price break for purchasing system wide resources.  In addition, not all of our hospitals need the same information.  The short of it is that I’d like to hear from all of you in regards to how the libraries in your health system work together and I’d like to start a dialog where we can share ideas and thought.  For now, lets just start in the comments for this post. Thanks!


  1. Michelle said,

    Alexia, I am a part of a large system. There is always a push from our users for us to merge. There also has been a push from administrators for us to have more “coordinated” resources and services. So far the merge idea hasn’t taken shape (yet). I can offer more thoughts via email.

  2. T Scott said,

    Just a thought on how to approach this tactically — and this is somewhat based on a situation that I’m observing currently at my university. Of course, I don’t know the particulars of your situation in this case so my suggestions may be all wet and you should feel free to ignore them.

    I would be very cautious about approaching this by pulling together all of the reasons that it won’t work and that it’s a bad idea. It is likely that such an approach would be perceived as simply the predictable response of wanting to protect turf and positions. When administrators think that’s your underlying motivation, they’re likely to simply dismiss all of your well thought-out objections.

    My inclination would be to get the librarians in the system to band together and think very hard and creatively about what other things you can do, in addition to the group purchasing that you’ve already done, where you might find some efficiencies or economies of scale that you haven’t taken advantage of so far. Use this as an opportunity to show the administrators that you are just as determined to work as seamlessly, efficiently, and with as little duplication as they are. Point out the dollars you’ve saved by the cooperative purchasing that you’ve already engaged in. Point out the areas where you’ve systematically and thoughtfully eliminated unnecessary duplications in collections and where, by working together, you’re able to maximize what each of you brings to the system as a whole. Challenge your own thinking as you analyze what each individual hospital really needs and where there might be areas that can indeed be centralized.

    If you can do that effectively, you’ll be in a much better position to be listened to when you make the argument for the kind of librarian/library presence that does need to remain in each individual hospital. You’ll be in a better position to persuade the administrators of what those critical differences between institutions are if they see you as taking this as an opportunity to improve overall coordination of services, rather than just as resistance and opposition to changing the status quo.

  3. Marie said,

    I am a librarian in a system that centralized library services. We have 11 hospitals, 17 clinics and home health agencies that we provide services for. There are some advantages, in the past only four of the hospitals had library services, now all facilities have access thru online access. The four librarians used to meet, but it never occurred to us to license our online products for the system–or to join our budgets.

    In the three years, since we have “merged”, we have been able to put more of our print collections in our online catalog – and we route to any employee who asks, we have reduced some duplication of print materials, everyone now has access to multiple online databases, and we changed the collection at an off-site library to a leadership development collection, and that has been very successful.

    I can see a lot of possibilities, but change is slow.

    Please feel free to contact me if you want to discuss further.

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