AVMA Answers: AVMA library

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How does the AVMA library serve the Association?

Diane FagenDiane A. Fagen, AVMA librarian, responds:

The function of the library is to assist the Association staff and members with their reference questions, protect the copyright of AVMA publications, and preserve the history of the AVMA. We have about 5,000 books; we receive more than 700 journals, magazines, and newsletters; and we maintain a historical collection of the materials published by the AVMA, from the organizational meeting in 1863 to the present.

Veterinarians should think about the AVMA library if they're trying to find materials. We will send out materials we publish, and I can assist in accessing our online journals. We don't loan books or journals, but I can help members locate the nearest library that will loan those materials. I can teach members about veterinary literature databases that they can search on their own and help them structure their searches. I also can locate historical information from our materials, such as obituaries or state VMA reports.

Relevant to copyright issues, the AVMA library can grant permission for reproduction of materials published by the Association. Also, because of my contacts, I can usually provide the name of the person to grant permission for reproduction of materials not published by the AVMA—which is important for veterinarians who wish to use published materials in presentations or to share material with clients or colleagues.

While I very much enjoy talking with members by telephone, the best way for members to contact me is through e-mail at dfagenatavma [dot] org (dfagen[at]avma[dot]org)—because I can use e-mail to send answers and requested documents. They should call me at (800) 248-2862, extension 6770, if they have a request that is difficult to put in writing. Members who need assistance with access to the online journals also should call me because we can sort out access more easily by telephone.

What are a couple of your current projects?

I'm seeking historical materials for the AVMA sesquicentennial coming up in 2013—either as donations or on loan—including class biographies, convention pins, photographs, and other artifacts. I'm searching for directories and journals published before 1940.

I'm also currently a part of the Veterinary Archives and Grey Literature Group. There's a body of information called gray literature—materials that are frequently uncatalogued and difficult to locate, such as primary research materials. Much of this material includes first reports of research or ideas, such as dissertations or abstracts, and it should therefore be preserved and made available. Our group's goal is to have a database to assist searchers in locating the library that owns the material and to assist searchers in obtaining the documents.

How have you reached out beyond the veterinary community?

I'm the chair this year of the Veterinary Medical Libraries Section of the Medical Library Association, and I was the program chair last year. Part of the mission of our section is to make other health librarians and institutions aware of the importance of veterinary materials to a variety of professions.

My own goal is to encourage nonveterinary librarians to think, "Is there a veterinary component to this?" every time they receive a reference question. I remind them that veterinary medicine is relevant to public health—pointing out topics such as zoonoses, assistance animals, and so on. It's important to me to promote the one-health concept.

When the AVMA Publications Division launched the online AVMA Collections, for example, I invited medical and public libraries in all states to link from their reference pages to the Collections site. The invitation included a brief description of the history of the AVMA as well as an introduction to the Collections content. Many libraries responded with thanks for the resource, indicating that they had linked to the Collections pages and the main AVMA page.

Last year, I was also a member of the program committee for the United States Agricultural Information Network—a group of librarians and information specialists at universities, governmental bodies, and associations. The group works to make materials more accessible to people in the field of agriculture. It also focuses on interrelationships between animal and human health, under the broader umbrella of agriculture.

The importance of these affiliations is that they help make the AVMA and veterinarians in general more visible—and help further collaborative work to improve veterinarians' access to information.