A Review of APhA PharmacyLibrary
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Anya McKinney, MSIS, AHIP 
Director of Library Services 
South College Library 
South College 

PharmacyLibrary is the American Pharmacists Association’s (APhA) web platform for providing online access to APhA published texts and other educational content. A standalone platform, PharmacyLibrary is intended primarily for pharmacy education with content aimed at pharmacy students, faculty, and preceptors. However, PharmacyLibrary access is also available for purchase by individuals and pharmacists interested in maintaining access to the reference library and other content. PharmacyLibrary is an excellent resource for institutions supporting a School of Pharmacy by providing access to the APhA’s authoritative textbooks, faculty instructional materials, and other quality resources. 

Content 

PharmacyLibrary provides subscribers with access to current APhA textbooks covering the broad scope of pharmacy curriculum, self-assessments for the NAPLEX, PCOA, and FPGEE exams, case studies, active learning exercises, and PharmacopytherapyFirst (P-First), a learning tool that focuses on disease state management and patient care. P-First includes modules in 18 different disease state categories such as dermatology, neurology, and toxicology. Each category includes a number of modules that are kept current (as of this writing the oldest module was dated 2017). The APhA textbook collection is regularly updated with new titles and new editions as they are published. A Technician Series for pharmacy technician programs is available as an add-on subscription. In-text citations are hyperlinked to the reference list, which provides links to locate the original source online through services like Google Scholar and Medline. Case study supplemental materials are also considered add-ons to a subscription or institutional license. The active learning exercises provide students with over 250 activities that can be modified by instructors for course use.  

Features & Functionality 

The self-assessments are well designed, providing the individual user with the ability to set up multiple assessments for the same exam, taking into consideration question levels, competency areas, questions previously answered, and how many questions to include in each self-assessment. This design allows the individual user to create and take multiple NAPLEX, PCOA, P-First, and FPGEE review assessments at varying levels and lengths.  

There is a built-in search box that functions as a single search for all the platform content. Users who create a personal account can retain their search history and save searches for future reference. The search box is a strength of the platform as it searches across not only the book content but other areas including the active learning exercises, self-assessments, and case studies. In addition to the basic search, PharmacyLibrary also includes an Advanced Search feature and a Citation Search. All the platform features are searchable from the main search box.  

One feature that could be improved is the visibility of content not in the user subscription or covered by an institution’s license. For example, the Technician Series of books is visible to the institutional user whether it is part of the current subscription or not. The option to hide content that is not included would be beneficial to the user. However, the platform includes an option to recommend not-subscribed content to the institution’s librarian.  

Business Model 

Access to PharmacyLibrary is based on an annual subscription license that provides full access for 12 months. Subscriptions are available for both individuals and institutions. Individual subscriptions are available for both APhA and non-APhA members. Individuals may choose to subscribe to the main PharmacyLibrary content, only new resources, or just the NAPLEX self-assessment review. At the time of this article, the individually available new resources include Trissel’s Stability of Compounded Formulations, 6th Edition, Trissel et al. (American Pharmacists Association, 2018) and Radiopharmaceuticals in Nuclear Pharmacy and Nuclear Medicine, 4th Edition, Kowalsky and Weatherman (American Pharmacists Association, 2020). Institution subscriptions are based on the pharmacy program full-time enrollment.  

Individual subscribers create an account as part of the subscription process. For an individual subscriber, the account login is required to access content. Institutional users have access to most of the platform after passing through their institution’s authentication portal without logging in to PharmacyLibrary. However, institutional users will want to create an individual account on their institution’s subscription to access all the PharmacyLibrary features.  

Institutional subscriptions can be set up through a variety of authentication systems, including IP recognition, shibboleth, and link resolver authentication. For example, the author’s institution uses OpenAthens for off-site authentication. Accounts can be created individually or using an OpenAthens/Shibboleth integration. Students and faculty must create an account to access the self-assessments, while faculty must create an account to gain access to the instructor materials.  

Once an individual account is created, teaching faculty are required to request instructor access either directly through an APhA contact or through their library representative. Their status as faculty is confirmed and access is generally granted within two days.  

An institutional subscription provides the account administrator with access to account settings that can be managed with your APhA representative or manually. Institutional account settings include a variety of access setup options, branding, self-assessment reports, and usage statistics. COUNTER5 usage statistics can be set up with SUSHI, downloaded manually, or set up as a regular report to be delivered via email. MARC records can be exported to include current holdings in the institution’s catalog. However, the subscription manager or cataloging librarian will need to export MARC records as editions and titles change to maintain accurate catalog entries.  

Breakthrough 

A library supporting a School of Pharmacy would do well to consider a subscription to PharmacyLibrary to support the educational aims of the program. PharmacyLibrary will provide pharmacy students with online access to the APhA textbooks, many of which may be part of their program’s curriculum, and the self-assessments can be leveraged to assist students in preparing for their licensure exams. 

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