Harmonizing library collections & resources across Unity Health Toronto

by Zack Osborne, Manager of Health Information & Knowledge Mobilization

Picture this…

You work at Providence as a nurse and want to search the CINAHL database to find articles supporting a new initiative on your ward, but hold on a second – Providence doesn’t have a subscription to CINAHL. You think, “but CINAHL is available at St. Mike’s and St. Joe’s, why not here? I thought we were now part of the same health network?” Or this: you’re a researcher at St. Mike’s and urgently need access to a VERY expensive scientific text available in electronic format, but due to licensing restrictions, it’s only available to staff at St. Joe’s. Or imagine this: you’re a physician at St. Joe’s with a patient inquiring about herbal alternatives for their treatment and you want to consult the Natural Medicines database, but alas, it’s only available at St. Mike’s!

Do any of these circumstances sound familiar? They’re flat-out frustrating! However, here’s the good news: these unwanted and unfair scenarios are currently being addressed and will be resolved through a Library Services initiative to harmonize library collections.

Harmonization & Equity

A foundational objective of unifying Library Services across Providence, St. Michael’s, and St. Joseph’s is to establish a single, harmonized library collection for all staff, physicians, researchers, students, and volunteers at Unity Health. The three legacy library sites each bring their own unique journal subscriptions, database licenses, eBook packages, print journals and books, clinical point of care tools, and more. A harmonized Library Service for Unity Health means improved resource equity and access across our three sites.

What’s involved?

Phase 1: Data collection (summer 2020)
Perform a comprehensive collection and systematic organization of all subscription resources (databases, singularly subscribed electronic journals, eBook and eJournal packages, online point-of-care tools, etc.) from each of the legacy library sites. Accompanying each resource is the publisher, Unity Health site(s) where it’s subscribed, the current cost, along with usage statistics, and other details.

Phase 2: Analysis (fall 2020)
Investigate and analyze usage of all resources at each site over the course of four years. Identify cost-per-use details and trends for each resource to help inform decision-making for expansion or cancellation. We will also consult input from the 2019 Needs Assessment Project conducted by Library Services, as well as historical data from interlibrary loan requests for journals not held in the collections at our sites.

Phase 3: License (re)negotiation & Enabling Access (fall 2020/winter 2021)
Work with third-party content and service vendors to request and obtain quotes for expanded access to resources, and negotiate or re-negotiate license terms for multiple sites and their users. We will also leverage consortial pricing of some resources through the Health Science Information Consortium of Toronto (of which Unity Health Toronto is a member). Ultimately, once finalized, resources will be made available and accessible to staff across Unity Health Toronto.

What else?

Future phases will include communications and promotion of new resources and collections at sites where they were previously unavailable, integrating our three legacy search catalogues for improved discoverability of print materials plus lending/borrowing of print items across the three sites, as well as work to evaluate new resources and continuous efforts to expand equitable access however appropriate and necessary.

There’s still much, more information to come! Please stay tuned, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns, and suggestions related to our collections harmonization initiative.

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