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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS013109)

Medical information service in Japan
No.13, p.109-123
Issue date

The present situation of the medical library and information service network in Japan is discussed in comparison with that in the United States.

In past years, Japanese library resources has been greatly strengthened. The latest edition of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture's “Union list of foreign scientific periodical” published this spring listed nearly 10,000 more titles than that of the former edition published in 1966. And the fifth edition of the Union List of Medical Periodicals... published by the Japan Medical Library Association, listed 6,651 foreign titles (published in 1969) and 3,717 Japanese titles (published in 1972), while its fourth edition listed 2,875 foreign titles (published in 1961) and 2,421 Japanese titles (published in 1963). However, the recent rapid development in medical fields makes it impossible for each individual library to cope with a variety of demands from its users in providing medical literature. The possible solution of this problem is to organize a network of medical library service.

Bishop reported on activities and services the Mid-Continental Regional Medical Library's network should offer. They are; (1) document delivery, (2) information services, (3) technical services, (4) education and consultation, and (5) research and development.

There exists a network of document delivery services of the Japan Medical Library Association (JMLA), which has 71 institutional members with a total collection of about 5.5 million volumes. In one year, from April, 1973, to March, 1974, just about a million volumes were loaned out, 153,000 interlibrary loan transactions were completed, and 850,000 requests for copy service were handled by their member libraries.

Even though the JMLA's network service is quite active, most of pharmaceutical and hospital libraries are not included in this network. Pharmaceutical libraries have organized their own group, the Japan Pharmaceutical Library Association (JPLA), which has nearly 100 member libraries and handles over 35,000 interlibrary loan requests per year.

Hospital libraries are either composing small interlibrary loan networks among themselves or are completely left alone without any help from other libraries.

As to information services, the Japan Information Center of Science and Technology (JICST) is offering the MEDLARS' search service and nearly one half of the JMLA's member libraries are offering manual search services using Japanese and foreign indexes and abstracts.

Union lists of medical periodicals have been compiled by the JMLA, JPLA and various groups of hospital libraries. And many training courses for medical, pharmaceutical and hospital librarians are being conducted by these groups, but few are meant for doctors' continuing education. As for research and development, no organized activities are seen at the moment.

The weakest point in the network of medical library and information services in Japan is its lack of the central unit, a national central medical library.

For the effective development of the network in future, we need to have some organization that connects various groups into one large network organization and acts as a substitute for a national central medical library.