Determining COVID-19’s impact on an academic medical library’s literature search service
Keywords:COVID-19 pandemic, health science libraries, literature searching, library services
Objective: At many institutions, literature search services are an important aspect of health science librarianship. This exploratory study analyzes how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the use of an academic hospital medical library’s literature search service.
Methods: To evaluate the pandemic’s impact on literature searching at The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Preston Medical Library, data were analyzed for changes from the year before the pandemic (March 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020) to the first year during the pandemic (March 1st, 2020 to February 28, 2021). This was accomplished using LibWizard, a library feedback and assessment application, to review literature search data during the two periods. Variables of interest included total searches, purpose of searches, affiliation of the searcher, and searches with a pandemic-related research question.
Results: A 36.6% drop in literature search service usage was reported from the pre-pandemic year to the during-pandemic year. There was a 55.3% decrease in searches intended for research, as well as significant decreases in the number of searches requested by all patron affiliations. After March 2020, 10% of all searches concerned a COVID-related topic.
Conclusion: The overall decrease in literature search requests, decrease in research searches, decrease in searches among all patron affiliations, and increase in searches on a COVID-related topic suggest that healthcare worker and institutional priorities changed during the pandemic. The results revealed research interests during the first year of the pandemic, as well as an overall change in library service functionality.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Courtney Anne Wombles, Kelsey Grabeel, David Petersen
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