DCT Librarian Selector Profile: John Prentice, B.Ed (Sec) – Lib. 
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Library Manager (on Wadawurrung country) 
Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists 

Editor’s note: On a regular basis, we publish profiles of librarians who have been an integral part of Doody Enterprises, whether they have served on our Library Board of Advisors, as a Librarian Selector for Doody’s Core Titles, or on the editorial board/as a List Selector for Doody’s Special Topics Lists. This month, we are profiling a librarian who has served as a Librarian Selector for Doody’s Core Titles since 2020: John Prentice of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists  

Where do you currently work and what is your position? 

I work at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) located in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been here just over six years. As the library manager, I’m directly responsible for overseeing the library resources and services for both ANZCA and the College of Intensive Care Medicine (CICM).  

Provide a brief description of your library and its services. 

The college is responsible for training and accrediting Australian and New Zealand-based anaesthetists, and we have one of the best medical libraries in the Australasian region. We cater to nearly 2,000 trainees and over 7,000 fellows and are responsible for ensuring that they have the necessary resourcing for their courses and exams, as well as for their continuing education. Over the last decade, the library has moved from a predominantly paper-based collection to a predominantly online one. Services have also gradually evolved and expanded during this time and now include full suites of journals, ebooks, databases, apps, and other online tools. In addition, we provide such services as loans (predominantly of exam-related books for study purposes), document delivery, and a literature search service. Essentially, we’re a scaled-down version of a tertiary academic library. 

When did you start in health sciences librarianship? What was your position? With what institution? 

After spending a short time in public libraries, I secured a position at Victoria University (Australia) — a “hybrid” university that provides both higher education and technical further education. The St. Albans campus at which I was located offered nursing and psychology courses. Initially I worked in lending services, and then over a period of 15 years I moved into inter-library loans, serials, reference services, and then e-services. It provided me with a very broad understanding of academic/health libraries and the services they offer, which is the perfect background for anyone who wants to run a specialist library with a very small number of staff, and where everyone needs to be a “jack-of-all-trades.” 

Name two of the most important issues facing the profession today. 

Relevancy and sustainability. I think the big struggle for most libraries today is shifting how they operate and provide resourcing to ensure that they meet the needs — and expectations — of their users. That often comes at a financial cost, and it’s important that a library be able to advocate for itself to ensure that it has the necessary funding and support to provide the resourcing that their users need. That obviously takes a lot of work, but in an age where every dollar counts, it is absolutely critical to our survival. Here at the college, we’re lucky in that due to the groundwork done by my predecessors, we’re well-resourced and supported by senior management, so we don’t have to fight a lot of those “just trying to keep afloat battles.” In many ways, we’ve moved onto the next three issues: accessibility, integration, and promotion to ensure our users know what we have and can access it as easily as possible. 

What is one innovation, product, or service in your library that you’re excited about? 

We have two. The first is our in-house “no-cost” database that we created to manage our document delivery requests. With approximately 1,500-2,000 requests every year, it’s freed up an enormous amount of staff resourcing to enable us to expand into other areas (such as creating “how to” webinars, etc.). Last year we won the Health Innovation Award for this database and made it available to download for free from our website. The other innovation is BrowZine/LibKey. It’s a terrific product and we’ve integrated it into nearly every aspect of our journal delivery/access. It’s helped us overcome a lot of delivery and accessibility issues, and they have a fantastic support team. We use the LibKey Nomad web extension with PubMed and it’s just about our favourite thing when chasing articles. 

Why do you serve as a DCT Librarian Selector? 

Primarily because my boss asked me to! She was both the previous library manager and previous selector at the college and it was one of the things that was handed over to me when I arrived. Also, as a big proponent of open access and open libraries, I think it’s important for us to share our experience. There is far too much knowledge siloing in the industry, so this is one way of opening that up a bit. 

Anything else you’d like to share? 

Right now I’m looking to the future and the growing impacts of OA initiatives. It’s an evolution, not quite a revolution, and it’s increasingly obvious to me that our jobs are going to get even more convoluted — especially when it comes to managing access and delivery. 

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