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Combining resources, combining forces: Regionalizing hospital library services in a large statewide health system
Medical Library Association Annual Meeting (2014)
  • Heather J Martin, Providence St. Joseph Health
  • Basia Delawska-Elliott

Objectives: Amidst declining full-time equivalents (FTEs) and budgets, four
hospital libraries were forced to adapt in order to survive or possibly even thrive. This paper describes the experience, including process, challenges, and lessonslearned of an organizational shift to a regionalization of services, collections, andstaffing. Insights from this process are shared and may help similar organizationsgoing through restructuring, centralization, or mergers.

Methods: After an FTE reduction, 2 libraries situated in large teaching hospitals
and 2 in small community hospitals in a western US statewide health system sawopportunity for expansion through a regional reorganization. Strategic planning and stakeholder interviews identified strengths, growth areas, and threats tosuccessful implementation of a regional structure and established a plan formoving forward. Service areas were expanded to include the entire statewidehealth system. While FTE stayed static, the staffing model was reorganized, witha team approach reporting to a regional director. Eliminating duplicatesubscriptions and cutting 80% of print titles, allowed for an addition of 100+electronic titles, despite significant cost increases to license e-resources to theentire health system, and expanding linking options dramatically improvedfindability. A regional intranet site was created to provide a single entry point, anda remote access solution developed.

Results: Despite a loss of 2/3 of the professional staff and a budgetary decrease
of 27% over the previous 3 years, the health sciences libraries were able to growbusiness, usage, awareness, and collections through organizational innovationand improved efficiency following regionalization. The regionalization of thehealth sciences libraries was considered a success by library staff andadministration. Initial usage statistics from the first year of regionalization showan average monthly increase of 25% in literature search requests and 6% indocument delivery requests, demonstrating successful outreach, and an increasein internal efficiency as FTE was not adjusted to match increased business.

Conclusions: The regional library system in this state is seen as a model for
regionalizing services and responsiveness to organizational change. It has beenconsidered for replication in an additional statewide region of the parent healthcare system,
  • hospital libraries,
  • medical libraries
Publication Date
Spring May 19, 2014
Citation Information
Heather J Martin and Basia Delawska-Elliott. "Combining resources, combining forces: Regionalizing hospital library services in a large statewide health system" Medical Library Association Annual Meeting (2014)
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