The discipline of veterinary science encompasses a vast body of knowledge that is derived from basic and applied studies of biological processes and diseases in all animals except humans. Most of the work of veterinary scientists takes place in academic or government research settings. The delivery of a wide range of diverse animal health services to society is known as the profession of veterinary medicine. Veterinarians diagnose, treat and control animal diseases and injuries. They help prevent the outbreak and spread of animal diseases. They perform surgery on sick and injured animals and prescribe and administer medicines and vaccines. Some veterinarians inspect food, investigate disease outbreaks or work in laboratories as part of federal and state public health programs.
Information about the care of animals and treatment of their diseases is sought by a wide variety of people—veterinary practitioners, veterinary students and researchers, agriculturists, pet owners, the popular press, government entities and others. The purpose of this volume is to present a picture of information access and delivery by United States and Canadian academic veterinary medical libraries (VMLs) to the veterinary community and others with interests in the profession. This is done by discussing the resources that are available, as well as methods of delivery of that information. Our discussion of these topics will not only point out the unique aspects of these collections and services, but will also illustrate much that is in common with all medical collections and library services. As with all libraries, the goal of VMLs is to provide high quality service while looking after the information needs of their clientele through selection, acquisition, cataloging, and dissemination of materials and familiarizing their users with these resources. In the past decade, new challenges and opportunities for information specialists stem from the impact of technology on VMLs. Our goal with this volume is to be concise, but thorough about all of these topics.
We begin with an historical overview of the evolution of VMLs in Chapter 1. As information management become increasingly “virtual,” emphasis must be shifted from collection ownership to information access. Chapter 2 discusses today’s collection development and management practices for books, serials and other non-book materials in VMLs, while Chapter 3 deals with the processing of the acquired materials. The focus of Chapter 4 is on reference and other public services in these libraries. In these chapters we attempt to provide a summary of knowledge that integrates past practices with issues of contemporary relevance, while casting an eye towards the future as we see it in Chapter 5.