A Model for Collaborative Evaluation and Selection of Electronic Resources

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Special Supplement, MLA ‘99, Abstract, Present Tense Future Perfect, MLA ‘99 Chicago, May 14-19, 1999, p. 7.



Purpose: This presentation will report on the establishment of an electronic resources committee including problems and issues requiring resolution, the steps to formation, configuration of personnel and the accomplishments of the committee since formation. An assessment of the strengths of the model will be discussed.

Setting/Participants/Resources: Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, The George Washington University Medical Center is a medium-sized academic health sciences library in an urban setting.

Brief Description: Through a strategic planning initiative begun in September 1997, it was determined that the library needed to become more efficient in providing its patrons with access to electronic resources. The process for evaluation and selection of electronic resources needed revision. Lack of formal communication between collection development staff and other pertinent areas of the library and Medical Center, including systems and public services, hampered these efforts. In spring 1998, an electronic resources committee was formed to improve and direct the process of evaluation, selection, and implementation of electronic resources. Members of the committee include staff from technical services, systems, and reference. An Electronic Resources Coordinator position was developed to spearhead this activity. Since formation, the committee has developed a web links criteria policy, an electronic collection development policy, and a form to track electronic resources and licensing information. Electronic product selection moved from one or two individuals to a collaborative process. The committee has been allocated specific funds from the library collections budget to make purchases. The committee supports management in their negotiations with departments regarding selection and acquisition of electronic resources.

Results/Outcome: Better, more informed selection decisions are being made: duplicative content and incompatible technologies are identified prior to expenditure of funds. This model (the committee) has yielded better exchange of information within the library and more effective responses to patron suggestions. The library has made strides toward greater integration of services and resources and increased access to health science information. The formation of the committee is a vital step toward this goal.

Evaluation Method: Anecdotal patron comments regarding new resources and new availability of resources have been extremely favorable. A survey or needs assessment of library staff and patrons is planned.


A presentation at the Medical Library Association Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, May 17, 1999