Watson W. Wise Medical Research Library is the place

Monday, September 25, 2006

Where do you go when you need accurate, up-to-date information about a rare medical condition? You start with the local bookstore, but it has no books or magazines on the topic. A Web search turns up thousands of sites, but most don’t have any relevant information. And the sites with information offer conflicting data and advice about the condition or promote questionable remedies.

In East Texas, you can find help sorting through this barrage of contradictory and confusing information at the Watson W. Wise Medical Research Library at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. The only full-service medical library in the region provides access to the latest editions of medical journals, medical databases on the Web, and patient-friendly books and Web sites, said Tom Craig, interim director of Library Services.

“We can help locate reliable, detailed health information that most people would have difficulty finding, whether they are medical professionals or laypeople. We’re the experts in medical and health information. When you really need reliable health information, you go to the experts,” he said.

The library opened in 1984. It is dedicated to the late Watson W. Wise, a local philanthropist who envisioned a biomedical library for East Texas.

The library has more than 4,000 books, most of which cover biomedical topics and are written for physicians, researchers, and other health-care professionals, Craig said. The library subscribes to about 300 printed journals and has access to more than 3,000 online journals. Members of the public may use library resources in the library, and residents of the state of Texas may check out books and audiovisual materials. The library is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“In fiscal year 2005, we had just over 1,700 requests for information, and individuals using the library’s Web pages accessed more than 16,000 medical articles,” Craig said.

“We’re supporting patient care and clinical research throughout East Texas. The resources we provide help health professionals make better decisions. We also provide crucial data for UTHSCT scientists who are writing grant applications and seeking funding for their research,” he said.

“But the library is not just for health professionals. It has books on consumer health, as well as a consumer health Web page. And UTHSCT physicians can and do write ‘information prescriptions’ that refer patients to the library to learn more about their medical conditions,” Craig said.

“We can teach people how to do more focused Web searches, so they can identify quality information for themselves. We can point people to specific Web resources and help them search the medical literature more effectively. We help people navigate the ‘invisible Web’ of Web-accessible databases that are not directly searchable with a general search engine,” he said.

The library is a primary partner with LSU Health Sciences Center – Shreveport, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

The library has contracts with nine East Texas health-care organizations, including Trinity Mother Frances Health System and East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, ETMC in Jacksonville, Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, and Paris Regional Medical Center in Paris, Texas.

The Health Center’s library provides services such as document delivery, interlibrary loan, database searching, and reference assistance. In addition, numerous physicians and other health-care professionals are part of the “Loansome Doc” online system, which allows them to order articles from the library.

Residents in UT Health Science Center’s Family Medicine Residency Program, Occupational Medicine Residency Program, and Pharmacy Practice Residency Program – as well as medical students from UT Southwestern and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth serving their family medicine rotation – all use the library, Craig said.

“The library is concentrating on supporting the growing academic mission of the Health Center,” he said, referring to the degree-granting authority awarded to UTHSCT in 2005.

“We want this to be the hub of health science information for this part of the state. We plan to increase the use of information technology and make the technology easier to use as we continue to move from print to electronic format for many of our resources,” Craig said.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.