Medical Library Leads Effort in Improving Information Access
October 29, 2003

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Macon Through the support of a $5,000 grant from the National Library of Medicine's Southeastern/Atlantic Region, Mercer University School of Medicine's Medical Library will host a technology awareness conference Oct. 30-31 to assist rural and medically underserved areas in accessing the most current medical information.

The conference will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Georgia Interactive Network (GaIN) for medical information, a non-profit network based at the Mercer Medical Library that offers a wide range of information services to member health care individuals and institutions in Georgia.

"Technology plays a huge role in just about every service and resource that libraries provide, but there are many hospital libraries around the state who don't have the benefit of the wonderful information technology resources we have here at Mercer," said Rita Smith, GaIN program coordinator in Mercer's Medical Library. "In keeping with the Medical School's mission, this conference is a way to help librarians and health professionals from medically underserved areas keep up with the latest information technologies and continue to do their jobs well."

In response to rapidly growing medical library technology and the increasing number of online medical resources, the conference will offer training in special National Library of Medicine programs used to effectively research medical information. Carol Jenkins, director of the Health Sciences Library at University of North CarolinaChapel Hill, will also deliver a keynote address on how libraries can improve e-health care.

"The Internet has had a huge impact not only on library services, but also on access to health information and publications," said Smith. "We continue to educate our users on locating and evaluating information, and try to dispel myths that everything is available for free online."

While medical journals and publications are available electronically, Smith says many require a fee for access, which is sometimes higher than that of receiving the printed version. Through networks like GaIN and free opportunities to learn about medical information technology, Mercer's Medical Library aims to provide an essential resource for medical knowledge and patient care. Classes are open to the public, but registration is required. For more information, call (478) 301-2827.

Mercer University established the School of Medicine to improve the supply and distribution of primary care and other needed specialty physicians in rural and other medically underserved areas of Georgia. In addition to the doctor of medicine degree, the School offers graduate degrees in public health, family therapy and family services.  More than half of the School's graduates are practicing in federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas in Georgia.

Founded in 1833, Mercer University has campuses in Macon and Atlanta as well as three regional academic centers. With 10 schools and colleges, the University offers programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law and theology. For 14 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Mercer University as one of the leading universities in the South. The Princeton Review has listed Mercer among The Best 351 Colleges in North America.







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