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Armed Forces Medical Library Closing?

A big thanks to Ian Campbell of The Gov Doc for alerting us to yet another possible federal library closure.

He reprints a letter from Patrick Walz of the Armed Forces Medical Library, which I will copy here due to the time factor cited in Patrick’s letter:

I am a Tech Info Specialist at the Army Surgeon General’s Armed
Forces Medical Library. We are currently in a battle to save our
Library which has been an esteemed part of the US Military Medical
Corps since 1836.

We perform research for the Surgeons General of all the Military
Branches, as well as soldiers overseas in Germany, Great Britain,
Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recently, the Military has been forced to make some budget cuts, and as is usually the case, the “easy target” library has come under the microscope. We were suddenly and inexplicably placed under a highly aggressive “work-group” comprised of Lean Six-Sigma-ready business ninjas. They want to close/move/consolidate or minimize our already scant resources.

As is always the case, our customers know the value of the Library. We’ve already received official letters, memos, testimonials etc… from a wide-range of military historians, commanders, executive officers and researchers, but it seems to be not enough.

FY 06 marked the closings of nation-wide EPA Libraries and the Air
Force has decided to close all of its Medical Libraries. We’re getting a little freaked out. We must prove to the current bureaucracy that after 171 years, we are still an asset to the organization.

We have a plan of attack, we’re wearing out a copy of MAKING THE
CASE FOR YOUR LIBRARY. What we lack is information. That’s all this workgroup wants. Graphs, charts, spreadsheets and death by PowerPoint. If we could argue the entire case using ones and zeros we’d be in good shape.

We are hoping that you may have researched, or know someone who has researched the impact of closing a library. We’d like to know the cost differences between reciprocal document delivery and independent research contractors. Physical Librarian vs.. 100% automated databases.

The bosses are looking for short-term cost avoidance, and if they can save FY07 funds by canning the Library they won’t hesitate. We wouldn’t ask you for this if we had time to compile the data, but we don’t have time. They want everything immediately. It’s like an information ambush: defend your library with some annual usage stats that mean nothing to the workgroup and a wet noodle. Good luck!

If you have any research or know anyone that’s recently fought the
good fight, the help would be greatly appreciated. I was the Director of Medical Library in Germany prior to my coming here. I lost that fight and the library there is no more.

Many thanks!

Patrick R. Walz
Technical Information Specialist
Armed Forces Medical Library
5109 Leesburg Pike, Room 670
Falls Church, VA 22041
E-mail: Patrick.Walz@tma.osd.mil
Phone: 703-681-8028; FAX: 703-681-8034

To me personally, it is just stunning that at a time when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are greatly ramping up the need for evidence-based medicine in the military, the Pentagon seems to be choosing to gut their medical information resources.

If you can help Patrick in his battle to keep high quality information resources for the military medical establishment, I think you will also find yourself supporting the troops in a positive way.

We at FGI wish him and the staff Armed
Forces Medical Library well.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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