Monday, November 30, 2009
One of the most stunning buildings on the National University of Health Sciences' campus is the Learning Resource Center (LRC). The LRC is a unique health science library that offers a wealth of print and electronic resources targeted toward students, faculty and professionals in traditional and complementary medical fields.
Open 88 hours per week, the LRC's interior is flooded with natural light streaming in from skylights and enormous windows that overlook "Lake Janse." Glancing up from study tables, students can watch the peaceful swans in summer or survey the winter snow gathering on prominent pieces of outdoor sculpture. Students can make themselves at home and bring food and beverages in while they study, or reserve one of the many "study group" rooms to meet and discuss research topics with their classmates.
With close to 18,000 print and audio-visual items, the LRC is one of the area's largest medical libraries. The LRC currently receives 242 carefully selected journals from all fields of health sciences. Historically, the wide variety and number of scientific journal subscriptions have always been the strength of the NUHS collection. "When you're dealing with science-based health care, having the most current information is very important - and that's where the journals come in," says Joyce Whitehead, director of the LRC.
Modern technology also allows NUHS access to a wide range of research data and journals through online database subscriptions. "In the world of medical science you can't simply rely on 'googling' for your information. There's so much more out there that won't show up on a search engine. It's our job to provide these resources and help students learn how to use and access them," says Whitehead.
NUHS is also plugged into the state of Illinois' fantastic interlibrary loan program, so there is virtually unlimited access to resources from around the country. Although the interlibrary loan capabilities greatly expand NUHS' access to materials, Whitehead says, "The breadth of our collection is best summed up by the fact that we lend three times more than what we borrow from other schools."
National's LRC has grown its collection to accommodate the new naturopathy, acupuncture and oriental medicine degree programs. "Actually when the two new ND and MSAc/MSOM directors came on campus, we asked them to give us a list of books and materials they needed us to purchase. They were both surprised at the result. Since National has been a leader in natural and alternative medicine for over 100 years, we already had most of the historic texts in our ongoing collection," Whitehead reports.
The LRC at National is one-of-a-kind. "We are part community library, part medical library, and yet hold a large collection specific to the many fields of complementary, alternative and natural medicines," says Russ Iwami, reference librarian at the LRC for 28 years. "Our biggest challenge is to show students and faculty everything we have. When we're able to do that, they are amazed."