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Library access by members will be retained in plan for provision of library services, Council agrees

A physical library presence will be retained at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s London headquarters, it was decided at the October 2009 Council meeting after the Council  received a paper from the Transitional Working Group, which made the recommendation.

The TWG had recommended a policy for the library that:

  • Retains access to print and electronic resources by members
  • Rationalises the current collections to establish a contemporary resource comprising modern pharmacy practice-based resources and seminal works
  • Retains the option to develop an enhanced collection at a later stage depending on membership requirements, budgets and income


BERNARD KELLY, director of resources, told the Council that the key seminal texts published since 1990 would be identified and retained for reference purposes and that rare books would be transferred to the custodianship of the museum. An ethical disposal policy would be developed for books that were not to be retained.

Mr Kelly also told the Council that the postal supply of books and documents would cease at the end of the year. These activities were expensive in terms of the time of the people involved and the actual cost of despatching books.

In relation to space allocated to the library, Mr Kelly explained that given the low level of usage and the considerable amount of space that was given over to storage of texts that were rarely accessed, it was decided that there were better ways of using the space to service the needs of members.

The old library space had been fitted out at the Department of Health’s expense to provide office space for rental to the General Pharmaceutical Council. However, additional space in the lower library are had been fitted out to provide library and information services and online work stations for visitors.

SYLVIA HIKINS wondered who would decide which texts would be considered historical.

Mr KELLY replied that the curator of the museum would be working with the existing staff of the library to identify such texts.

DOROTHY DRURY accepted that a “lean and mean” approach was necessary but pointed to concerns among the members. She asked that requests for books be monitored in future.  

Mr KELLY pointed out that requests were already monitored. But what the library was trying to do was to enable people to have access to the information they need but closer to home and without the burden of a postal library service.

CATHERINE DUGGAN said there was a lot of sensitivity around the library and museum and members needed to feel secure that the heritage is not being disregarded. She wondered if there was an option to offer texts that may be archived or disposed of in any way to the members themselves.  

Mr KELLY said this is a positive message about what we are trying to do better in the future for the benefit of members at the most cost effective price. “As regards disposal of books, we will have a ethical disposal policy to start off with but certainly we will be talking to the schools of pharmacy, any school of medicine, science, chemistry, whatever.

“We will be talking to other museums where they might exist and, yes, we will publish the information about what is intended to members so that if members wish to acquire them, then they will be able to do so.”

SUE KILBY wondered why the 1990 cut-off date was chosen for retention of texts. and said that pre-1990 publications produced by the Society should be kept.

Mr KELLY said the date was rather arbitrary. The aim was to end up with a resource that was current, useful and relevant resource for practising pharmacists.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10982430

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