By Wendy Sarubbi | December 16, 2011 4:45 pm

As health sciences libraries shift from print to digital collections, the UCF College of Medicine’s Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library is leading the way.

About 30 members of the Tampa Bay Medical Library Network (TaBaMLN) gathered at the library on Dec. 8. Their institutions are at various stages of adapting to digital content, but everyone had plenty of questions for Library Director Nadine Dexter and her staff.

The Health Sciences Library staff is the “most knowledgeable about digital development,” said Deena Flores, library director at Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences.

With the mobile-technology horizon rapidly changing, the attendees shared their main concerns:

  • Developing and promoting e-textbooks among library users
  • Gaining access to better discounts for digital content through consortium or group deals
  • Understanding licensing agreements for digital content and negotiating contracts
  • Adapting library collections to the new technology of tablets and smartphones
  • Establishing cooperative agreements for digital content with other libraries
  • Developing digital content for subjects such as consumer health or oncology

“The evolution of content publishing, consumer behavior and mobile devices is changing the textbook market,” said Nadine as she clicked through a PowerPoint presentation on e-textbooks.

As a generation heads to school armed with mobile devices, Nadine said the popularity of tablets such as iPads and devices such as smartphones is reshaping “how we consume content.”

With a library collection that is 98 percent digital, students at the UCF College of Medicine can engage in interactive learning anytime, anywhere. They can take advantage of a range of services, from iPads that broadcast normal and irregular heart sounds to software that allows students to test themselves.

Deedra Walton, the college’s electronics resources librarian, talked about the advantages of consortium, or group, discounts. It works like this: A group of medical libraries gets together and negotiates with a vendor for a discount. Such deals can save libraries 25 percent to 30 percent. The Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA) also assists libraries of the state’s public universities in negotiating such deals.

Joshua Brown, learner support specialist at Argosy University in Tampa, said the school’s library began converting to digital offerings about a year ago. The project is 90 percent complete, he said, and the goal is to be 100 percent digital in another year. He said undergraduate students accept the technology, but some older students are hesitant until they realize the cost savings: A digital textbook might cost $75, but a print version could cost hundreds.

Medical librarian Jan Booker of Lakeland Regional Medical Center said she was at the seminar to learn more because the hospital’s CEO is focusing on digital technology. The library has about 100 journals in print, she said, but only some are digital. It has no e-textbooks.

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