Non-circulation of Print Journals

The Library will stop checking out journals effective October 1, 2004. Many people have expressed frustration with not being able to obtain journal articles when the journals they need are checked out, and this problem is magnified when journals are not returned by the due date. The Library frequently has to incur the cost of obtaining articles on interlibrary loan because the needed journals are checked out, and library staff spend significant time and effort retrieving overdue materials. The Library developed this policy in an effort to ensure that materials are readily available in the Library when needed, and to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to provide access to these materials.

Usually when someone needs a journal, he or she is just looking for an article, not something that takes a lot of time to read and would warrant checking out the item. People at UAMS often check out journals so they can photocopy articles in their departments for free, instead of photocopying the articles in the Library at 10 cents per page. However, the cost of copying is not really free, regardless of where it gets done, and it seems that it would be more cost-effective for the institution as a whole if the copying were done in the Library. Photocopy cards can be charged to departmental accounts.

Many other major health sciences and undergraduate libraries do not circulate journals. The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center library stopped circulating journals more than 10 years ago, and staff studied the availability of journals in the library before and after the policy change. They found that the chance that someone could find everything on a bibliography was less than 70% when journals circulated. After they stopped circulating journals, more than 85% of the items on most bibliographies were available, saving the researchers and library staff a great deal of time and effort. (Effective October 1, 2004)

Mary L. Ryan, MLS, MPH
UAMS Library Director, #586
501 686-6730 (voice)