Friday, 13 April 2007

Bye Bye, BMJ, goodbye

Bad news - the subscription that NHS libraries in Essex had to the BMJ journals online has now expired. That means that your Athens password no longer gives you access to the BMJ and related titles.

The BMJ was trailblazer on the internet and was initially all free to view. In recent times libraries have paid for you - the user - to have free access. Budget cuts in 06/07 meant something had to give and the BMJ went out with the bathwater. Many libraries (this one included) still take the paper version, so all is not lost.

Personally I get the table of contents emailed to me weekly. I have to say that although the fillers are often amusing, and the news snippets may be interesting if you haven't already caught them on the BBC or Reuters websites, the actual clinical content seems very thin. This week's issue has just three reviews.

This raises two issues. The first is that free to you doesn't necessarily mean free to all. the resources you have through Athens have been bought and paid for by the NHS so you pay nothing at the point of use. It's amazing how many people seem to think that the world’s knowledge is all on the internet and all free. Next time you download something "free" think of the budgets that have paid for that for you.

The second issue is the way that libraries fall into the habit of stocking "must have” titles. How can you be a real medical/healthcare library and not stock the BMJ, Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA? The truth is that none of these is indispensable, and many NHS libraries no longer take them. Good quality evidence turns up in all sorts of places - just relying on a few best sellers is no longer the way forward.

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