Supporting the curriculum is the primary selection criteria

In this sophisticated information technology age, there are countless educational resources in the fields of health and medicine. So how does the OUM Library choose what to include in our collection?

“The number one focus of our library is to support our curriculum. This is why we invest in ClinicalKey and ClinicalKey Student,” says Katie Sullivan, OUM Associate Librarian. ClinicalKey Student is where the bulk of OUM textbooks are accessed and ClinicalKey provides supplemental research support and point-of-care information.

So, when students or faculty request a textbook or resource that is not available within ClinicalKey Student, what criteria is used to decide if it is a worthy addition? The library staff looks at 1) whether it is a standard medical education text/resource, 2) its cost, 3) accessibility, 4) how many users may access it at the same time, and 5) if there are other resources that could serve this same informational need.

For example, the library added Bates’ Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking because it is a standard medical school text, has many useful video clips not available from other resources, it can support multiple concurrent users, and its student benefits warranted the cost.

In comparison, the most frequently requested resource which students would like to have added is a subscription to UptoDate. Unlike Bates, it is not in line with the library’s primary focus to “support our curriculum,” according to both library staff and faculty leaders.

“Our curriculum development team is concerned that students may rely on this resource when, at this point in their career, they need to learn comprehensive information, including their textbook content, the skills their clinical supervisors can impart, and the critical thinking skills in diagnosis and treatment, which take time to develop and refine,” says Else Talbot, OUM E-Librarian.

Faculty also shared that with UptoDate, both its online articles and conference papers, there is often an assumption that the audience already has a good understanding of the basics, so the time is spent discussing new information, which is not a sound choice for students who have yet to learn comprehensive material.

The library staff regularly researches and reevaluates the University’s collection. Both students and faculty recommend resources they would like to see added and all ideas are taken under advisement, says Katie.

Upon first investigating the points noted above – benefit, curriculum support, duplicate resource – if the item warrants further review, pricing and technical information is obtained from the publisher. If these work in the product’s favor, faculty and administrative input is also gathered. If we get the green light, the book or resource is added.

Don’t hesitate to recommend additions to the University’s collection. This is your library.

(October 2021)