PubMed, LinkOut, SERHOLD and More

Wow, your intrepid blog editor has been busy lately! I’m preparing to move the hospital library to a different campus across town. It has been a great opportunity to evaluate the entire collection, moving only that which meets the current needs of the library users. You know how “stuff” kind of accumulates. I last did this kind of a radical house cleaning when the current library space was remodeled in 1997 with a wonderfully generous contribution from a local business executive and his wife. So I have over a decade of “stuff” to sort out!
Since the library will be moving to smaller digs, I have had to do some rather siginficant de-selection in the print journal backfiles. Many of the titles are now on PubMed Central or are free online. So deciding to remove those from the collection was a no-brainer. Some of the other decisions have been more difficult. One grows attached to one’s collection! What to do with the no longer needed journals? A local recycler will take them. So I’ve moved many cubic yards of materials out of the library, across the parking lot, and into the semi sized recycling trailer. Who says librarianship is not hard work!
OK, so what does this have to do with PubMed, LinkOut, and SERHOLD? One thing that I’ve realized in this process is how much I rely on NLM services in providing service to my library’s patrons. PubMed LinkOut is the greatest thing since sliced bread in my book. It is the easiest way to let my library patrons know which articles are available through the library, either in print or online. The library’s budget cannot support a fancy ILS. Who can afford a link resolver? The library’s master print serials holding list is on SERHOLD. Why mess around developing some spreadsheet or database for this? My wonderful library volunteer Shirley uses old-fashoned check-in cards to keep track of current subscription receipts. When I need to know if the library has an article in print or online, I use PubMed to check. I print out a serials list every once in a while by requesting a DOCLINE holdings report for use in an emergency only and as a print copy of the library’s journal inventory. On Friday, I began the so exciting task of updating nearly every one of the library’s SERHOLD title records.
So as you might guess, I’ve been following closely the current flurry of discussion about PubMed on MEDLIB. For my library, PubMed is mission critical. There may be search interfaces for MEDLINE, but purchasing access for my library is out of the question. Even small changes in PubMed have a significant impact on how I provide library services. I was happy to see other librarians sharing my latest PubMed pet peeve on Friday. IMHO, eliminating the blue sidebar from search results displays was a poor decision. The most useful tools for searching PubMed simply are not available when they are needed. For example, it is difficult to try a MeSH search after your newly revised automatic term mapping search gives you a poor result.