by Sue Woodson (Welch Medical Library, Johns Hopkins University) <[email protected]>
and Blair Anton (Welch Medical Library, Johns Hopkins University) <[email protected]>
This brief communication updates a presentation given at the 2010 Charleston Conference that described, in part, Welch Medical Library’s journey to an all-electronic collection. The Welch journal collection was then almost entirely online, and the next goal was to remove up to 80% of the print collection that duplicated those online holdings. Staff developed criteria for selecting titles to withdraw (e.g., out-of-scope works and or those that duplicated our electronic holdings but were also held in trusted third-party archives like the National Library of Medicine and Portico.) A temporary staff member was hired to help with the extra work. She and cataloging staff began identifying and removing the appropriate titles and then correcting the catalog records to reflect the removal.
Four years later Welch has moved even closer to an all-electronic collection. We have only six current journal subscriptions in print format and spend less than .2% of our budget on print books. Print has not disappeared completely, however. Print books can be requested via the catalog and are then delivered to and retrieved from a user’s office on campus. Recently Hopkins joined the Borrow Direct program, and, as a result, the collection of shared print materials available to Welch users has grown enormously.
After weeding slightly more than 80,000 volumes, Welch stopped to consult with a committee of users from across the medical campus about the future of the Welch building. In response to this committee’s work the decision was made to pause the weeding project for now. Nevertheless Welch staff continue to generate lists of titles for expected future removal. We believe that eventually Welch will be asked to remove the print collection from the building. We have seen this occur in other academic medical libraries. The print collection requires valuable space in a grand building on a large, crowded, decentralized medical campus. Our proactive efforts now will allow us to make careful recommendations about what to keep and what to weed.
In addition to changes in the weeding project, library staff have been re-located; the Welch building has been repaired and renovated; and a new academic center has been moved into its ground floor. The West Reading Room, home to the famous portrait of the Four Doctors, was refurnished to facilitate quiet study, and serve as a space for lectures, or a hall where up to 100 people could dine. A handicap-accessible bathroom was installed to meet building codes. The East Reading Room was renovated to create inviting areas for individual and group study. Long-deferred repairs and upgrades were made. Energy-efficient windows replaced single-pane ones on three sides of the building, two leaking skylights were repaired, and many electrical outlets were added for users who bring their laptops and other devices needing to recharge.
The renovated Welch building has once again become a favorite site for events on campus. The Welch Library continues to grow its collections and services, delivering them wherever our users are.