- The Netwrok of Hospital Library Service
- No.16, p.163-184
There were 132,479 doctors in Japan in 1975. Of these about 19,000 were working either in the medical schools or in their affiliated hospitals, and about 47,000 were working in other public hospitals. While these 19,000 were enjoying fairly good library services of the medical schools with the best inter-library loan service network in Japan (about 20,000 transactions in 1975), provided by the Japan Medical Library Association, 47,000 doctors working in the public hospitals were suffering from much inferior library service.
There have been several surveys conducted by various groups to find out the situation of hospital medical libraries in this country.
The most recent one is the survey made by the Hospital Library Group of the Japan Hospital Association in 1977. According to the Hospital Directory 1976, there were 8,188 hospitals (with more than 20 beds) existed in this country. Of these, 2,000 belong to the Association. The Association sent to all its members a questionnaire to find out about their hospital libraries' situations such as, size, organization, budget, collection, staff and training activties, etc. Responsis were received from 268 hospitals (16%). More than a half (57.7%) of these hospitals had independent library quarters. Some were sharing a room with the medical record section. About 78% of all 268 hospitals had annual budget which falls somewhere between 1 million yen to 3 million yen. This insufficient budget situation reflected on the total number of current periodicals they were subscribing. Nearly 60% of these 268 hospitals were subscribing less than 90 periodicals. And only 74 of them had more than one full time library staff. Of these, 15 had more than two. On the other hand, 50 hospitals had no staff definitely assigned to their libraries. The larger hospitals usually had more library staffs and provided better library services with more variation.
In the present study, library use by the doctors of public hospitals was examined. Seven faily large hospitals located in Tokyo and in Shizuoka Prefecture were selected, and 10 doctors from each of these hospitals were interviewed.
They were using their libraries once or twice in a week in average. Nineteen out of all 70 said they were satisfied with their library service, while 9 said they were not. The rest thought their library services were passable. The most heavily requested matereials were either monographs and textbooks (28.9%) or foreign periodicals (28.1%). They were followed by domestic periodicals and secondary publications such as indexes and abstracts. The most heavily requested service by these doctors was documents providing service (23.6%). That was followed by literature search service (31.9%). The first resource they depended on was the library of their hospital (33.9%). The next one was the library of a medical school located near their hospitals (24.0%). Then, the pharmaceutical companies (19.0%).
When they needed to use these medical school libraries, they usually visited there themselves and read books and periodicals in their reading rooms. The doctors who had no medical school libraries near by had to depend on the libraries of the schools they graduated from.
In short, the present situation of the hospital lilrary services are not exactly satisfactory and the doctors who are working in these hospitals very often have to depend on medical school libraries near by. However, the Japan Medical Library Association to which all the medical school libraries belong is not willing to extend its service to the doctors who work in public hospitals.
To improve present imballanced library service situation in health science fields in Japan, the following measures should be taken: a) each hospital library has to strengthen its collection and service, b) to organize these hospital libraries to be able to provide cooperative services, c) to amalgamate these consortia of hospital libraries to make them become a part of the nation wide medical library network which should be developed by expanding the network of the Japan Medical Library Association.