The nursing collection is important in the development of a quality school of nursing. Often too little attention is given to this aspect of the educational program. As a result, students, faculty and the overall program have little potential for growth. The purpose of this article is to assist other nursing educators to develop and upgrade their nursing collection.
Our nursing collection is part of a multidisciplinary library that serves a metropolitan university's health sciences center which is committed to an urban mission. The Health Sciences Center (HSC) Library, in a biomedical learning resources center, offers a variety of research and reference services with print and nonprint media.
The nursing school, established in 1973, offers associate degrees, baccalaureate, and graduate programs. In a very short time, the Health Sciences Library had to expand its collection of nursing learning resources to meet the clinical, teaching, research, and continuing education needs of faculty and students. An upcoming NLN accreditation provided the stimulus for review of our library holdings. In preparation, we reviewed the literature on library procedures and organization. Unfortunately, the search revealed no pertinent criteria for developing a collection for a School of Nursing or for preparing such a collection for NLN accreditation. Therefore, we had to develop our own process.
As the library improved its priority for purchase of nursing literature, so has the function of the School's library committee improved. The School's faculty and administration feel that nursing faculty are most familiar with their own literature and, therefore, should have direct control and input in the process of selecting nursing literature. However in this institution the acquisitions librarian still maintains final control over purchases. Since this librarian was not as aware of our needs as we were, we asked her to become a member of our library committee with the hope that communication would be fostered and that her ability to give and receive input would educate her about the needs of our program. As a result, the Audio-Visual and Library Committee of the School of Nursing was formed. According to the bylaws of our faculty organization, the objectives of this committee shall be to:
A. aid the Health Sciences Center Library system in maintaining an up-to-date collection of library holdings in order to provide maximum library services to students and faculty.
B. assist the faculty member in the utilization of audio-visual equipment.
The functions of this committee shall be to:
A. develop and maintain a reference manual containing pertinent information regarding audio-visual equipment;
B. inform faculty members of new available audio-visual equipment.
C. screen new audio-visual equipment and make recommendations to the Coordinator for purchases;
D. maintain a liaison between the School of Nursing and the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center audio-visual coordinator to best utilize this resource person as a consultant on audio-visual affairs; and
E. assist staff in strengthening the library holdings.
F. peruse the Library materials from publishers and disseminate these to the proper department.
The committee consists of at least three faculty members (one from each of our three nursing programs, one student (from each educational program) elected by the student organization, the coordinator of the Autotutorial Lab (ATL), and liaison representatives from the Health Sciences Library. The purpose for the committee composition is to facilitate communication between and among faculty, students and the Health Sciences Center Library staff regarding library services and how to utilize the organizational structure of the HSC Library when problems arise.
The two librarians on our committee help foster communication. The librarian in charge of public services keeps us informed about the concerns and problems in the public service area of the library; the acquisitions librarian notifies us when new acquisitions arrive and brings new books, media, and journals to our attention.
In our task of upgrading and developing a nursing collection, we needed to know about the monies available for purchase of nursing literature. We often heard the Librarians explain: "The University has a new, expanding nursing school but no new monies allotted for nursing resources." Since the library is interdisciplinary, we had difficulty understanding how the library budget is allocated among the schools in the Health Sciences Center. Faculty were deeply concerned about this decision making process. As a result, the Committee now studies the budget and makes recommendations to the Director of the library for input into the distribution of allocated funds.
LIBRARY BOOK PURCHASE REQUEST
Nursing recommendations for the following year's nursing allocations are derived from a cost analysis of the present years spending for nursing resources and projecting this cost to the future year. Special needs (such as a new program, preparing for accreditation, etc.) also are considered when planning the budget. In this way, nursing faculty have gained input in the decision making process regarding distribution of the monies in the Health Sciences Center Library.
Our approach to the development of an adequate nursing collection was to use peer evaluation to determine if our collection is comparable to those in other schools of nursing. Our HSC Library does not have a specific printout of nursing holdings. Yet a specific list is essential for preparing for NLN accreditation because without it the strengths and weaknesses of the nursing collection cannot be determined. To compile the list we manually searched the card catalog and the computerized list of journal holdings to determine which holdings were specifically related to nursing. In this way we compiled an up-to-date listing of holdings in our nursing collection. We compared our holdings with the nursing holdings of two benchmark institutions. The main criteria used to select these institutions were their similarity to our educational programs.
Another approach to peer evaluation is through the voluntary NLN accreditation process. The criteria for Appraisal of Associate Degree Programs and of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs are specific in identifying that library holdings must be current and comprehensive (NLN, 1977).
To determine if our library holdings met these criteria, the committee reviewed the following resources which served as guides for the suggested acquisition of books and journals:
1) Strauch, K. & Brundage, D. (1980) Guide to Library Resources for Nursing. New York: Appleton Century Crofts.
2) Reference resources for nurses. Nursing Outlook, May 1978, 26, 325-329.
3) Brandon, A.N., & Hill, D.R. (October 1979). Selected list of nursing books and journals. Nursing Outlook,27, 672-680.
4) Books of the year. American Journal of Nursing, January 1975, p. 80.
After reviewing the books Usted in these resources and comparing them to our list of current holdings, we were able to determine which of the suggested books were already part of our nursing collection.
When initiating the decision-making process for acquisition of books and journals, the members of the library committee considered several factors. The library holdings should reflect the philosophy and conceptual framework of the School of Nursing. This assures against sparsity of books in some areas and excesses in others. Budget limitations also necessitate discretion in acquisition of books. Faculty input is important because faculty members possess expertise in various aspects of nursing. Input from faculty members also promotes their interest in upgrading the library holdings.
As a result of considering these factors, the committee developed the foUowing process for the acquisition of new books and journals.
1. First the requestor checks the compiled Ust of nursing holdings to verify that the desired reference is not available in the HSC Library. Then the individual faculty or student member submits a book or journal request form to a designated committee member. The request form (Figure) contains the specifics about the material to be ordered. The requestor justifies the recommendation by indicating how a book or journal falls within the scope of the schools phüosophy and conceptual framework. The library committee members feel that this additional input aids the committees objectivity and consideration of the request. The members of the committee decide coUectively if the book is to be recommended for purchase. The primary criterion for this decision is the phüosophy and conceptual framework of the School of Nursing.
2. Approved book and journal requests are forwarded to the Acquisitions Librarian, who is responsible for ordering aU books and journals for the Health Sciences Center Library.
3. When the book or journal is received it is added to the compiled list of nursing holdings.
Because much time and expense was incurred in keeping an updated manual listing of book holdings the library committee recommended that the compiled list be computerized. The computerized list of books was organized by author and subject, and also contained an alphabetical list of journal headings. The initial cost and biennial updating of the complete list for each faculty member was surprisingly economical for the School of Nursing.
The most outstanding advantage to having an easUy accessible computerized list of nursing holdings is that the strengths and weaknesses of the collection become extremely obvious. These weak areas then become the focus of acquisition.
In conclusion, updating our nursing collection for NLN accreditation has become a more manageable task for the library committee. Faculty have benefitted because course bibliographies are much easier to compile. Faculty and students also have direct input into the acquisition of new holdings, and have a direct line of communication with the library through the library committee when problems arise.
Finally, we have learned this developmental process of building a nursing coUection is an ongoing one. In subsequent years it wül be necessary to review the nursing coUection and to determine how it needs to change in relation to the growth and development of the nursing program.
- Criteria for the Evaluation of Educational Programs in Nursing Leading to an Associate Degree (5th ed.). (1977). New York: National League for Nursing.