The American Hospital Association's Board of Trustees, which met in Washington last week, said the association will retain "ownership" of the contents of the AHA's library even if those materials are moved to a new location.
The board's vow responds to concerns that the AHA's library "refocusing" effort will result in the loss of current and historical library materials.
The board's action also represents the first public acknowledgment of ongoing changes at the historic AHA library, which have been under way for months. The association is in the process of dumping the bulk of the library's books and periodicals, limiting public access to the library and replacing it with a slimmed-down, electronic version (Jan. 22, p. 40).
The AHA has stated that it's restructuring the library because of resource limitations and a desire to better serve members' information needs.
"There is a very, very strong commitment on behalf of the staff as well as the board to retain all the library's documents," said Frederick Brown, president and chief executive officer of BJC Health System and the AHA board member who's been chosen to oversee the AHA's library revamp.
Ironically, while supporting the downsizing of its own library, the board also promised to "commit staff and budget" to the development of a "collaborative national center for health services administration information" that would be supported by a coalition of healthcare organizations.
Representatives from more than 35 organizations, including the Group Health Association of America, the Medical Group Management Association and the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, also met simultaneously in Washington to discuss creating a collaborative health services resource center.
Christine McEntee, AHA executive vice president, said the groups hoped to have a plan completed by mid-year.
There are several options under consideration, including moving the AHA book and periodical collection, as well as the collections of the other organizations, to a neutral site.