Voice of Exchange

susan robishaw

Susan Robishaw

Assistant Director,
Geisinger Health Sciences Library
Danville, Pennsylvania, USA

A Medical Library Collaboration between the USA and Russia

In 2006 the Geisinger Health Sciences Library (Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA) extended its helping hand to the Cardiology Research Center in Moscow, Russia. The Assistant Director of Geisinger's HSL, Susan Robishaw, approached her foreign colleague, Elena Leonova, regarding opportunities for collaborative projects. The Science Library of the Cardiology Research Center contains a collection of 250 thousand books, journals and statistical reports in different biomedical areas and related subjects, and is equipped with PCs and Internet access.  It is considered to be one of the best medical and biomedical research libraries in all of Russia.  However, due to the significant reduction of financing of Russian science (including medical science) during the past 15 years, Russian physicians, nurses and other medical personnel, as well as researchers and investigators, experience tremendous 'information hunger' today, and need to extend their access to the most current medical information.

Started in 1927 as a few small individual collections in a tiny basement room, today the Geisinger Health Sciences Library includes three libraries that serve the needs of health professionals and scientists, as well as a consumer health library that provides easy-to-understand health information to the general public. The HSL has thousands of books in circulation and within the reference collection, 1076 journal titles and a substantial audiovisual collection. With its newest electronic equipment and access to the major electronic medical resources and databases, the HSL provides comprehensive library services to all Geisinger personnel.

The first part of the collaborative project involved offering our Russian colleagues an extension of their access to biomedical information through Internet reference services. Though global connections do not work as fast as desired, and the language barrier can still be a problem despite many of our colleagues being bilingual, the project has now started to show some progress. In February of 2007, an HSL representative visited the CRC Science Library and taught Russian colleagues how to access HSL resources, browse the HSL on-line catalog, and submit a request. Since February our library has fulfilled approximately 60 article requests received from the Russian library. One of the directors of the Cardiology Research Center, Vladimir Smirnov, said that in his opinion the project has already proved to be quite helpful, and he is looking forward to future collaboration.

The second part of the project is still in progress. The HSL is considering the logistics of sending books, which we would normally discard, overseas. The cost is $37.00 for 20 pound box, and so far we have sent just one package, containing books on cardiology, at the personal expense of one of the librarians. Many more books are waiting to be sent.

Of course this is just the beginning. We are still looking for different ways to help the health care specialists in Russia to get much needed information quicker and easier.