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MEDLIB-L  March 2003, Week 2

MEDLIB-L March 2003, Week 2

Subject:

Retain Search Requests (LONG -SUMMARY)

From:

"Conner, Eve" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Conner, Eve

Date:

Fri, 14 Mar 2003 13:34:43 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (751 lines)

Hello fellow MED-Libbers - Here is the summary I promised on whether to
retain search requests. I received so much input - all of it helpful. I
have found that there is basically two camps - those who keep, and those
who don't. Overall though it seems that all of us (including me) - have
found the importance of gleaning statistical information from these
requests before we file them away - either in the round file or file
cabinet :)


Also it seems many previous keepers, have stopped keeping them because
of the current political climate.

Here is the summary - long but informative.. - sorry for the delay.


When I was a hospital libn (12 yrs), I saved them for two years.  The
docs come back with the same questions, basically needing to learn about
an unusual patient diagnosis.

In the medical school lib. where I worked for 6 yrs, we kept them for 6
months-- space contraints.

In the pharmaceutical company where I've now been over 7 yrs., we keep
the search strategy records (paper) for 2 yrs, but the records of who
requested what for at least five years.  In this case, it's because it
takes 9-12 years from drug dicovery to potential FDA approval, and the
information is requested (updates, FDA information amendments, etc.) on
a recurring basis. Anything older than 2 yrs, we keep only a database
record of who requested, date done, and databases searched.


I don't have any legal reasons but I have kept a binder of every search
I have 
ever done.  I keep 10 on a page of date, name and search strategy and
which 
search engines I used.  I keep track of how many searches I do for
statistical 
reasons--to show how many I have done in case anyone asks me.


We retain 1 year + current year.  With USA PATRIOT Act, this information
could be subpoened by a law enforcement agency.  While this doesn't seem
too likely, we viewed the situation as "the less info we retain, the
less info there is to be subpoened."  It is one way to protect patron
privacy.

I keep paper requests, and electronic files of the results, up to three
months.   That way if somebody loses their results or wants to modify
their request, I don't have to start from scratch.  I do the same with
article/book requests.  After three months this need becomes unlikely,
at which point I shred/recycle and delete them.  E-mailed requests are
automatically deleted by the system.  I also have an Excel spreadsheet
with all of the search and some of the article requests (most come in by
phone, and I type them there immediately).  Something I need to get
around to doing is stripping the names from these and from my QuickDoc
records, in order to protect confidentiality, since all library records
are subject to "PATRIOT" Act intrusion.

I have held on to mine as examples of the types of information people
request if ever asked, as confirmation that what we do "helps" with
patient care.  I also save "Response Sheets" that people return from
literature searches I have provided by the library (me)to show if the
information provided was relevant and how the information was used
(patient care, policy development, safety, management issues, etc.).

keep a log on my PC of search requests. It is useful when I see an
information resource pertinent to something that was asked of me
recently, but can't remember who the requestor was. The log is also
useful for trending our search requests. For example, the number of
requests from administrators or nurses might be of interest to determine
effectiveness of promoting services to them. Groups of library non-users
could be determined. The number of diagnosis-related or drug-related
requests might be determined when deciding whether to subscribe to a
particular information resource.

I don't know of any rules that govern this but I have found that I
occasionally am asked the same or very similar questions and it is nice
to be able to go back to my notes and see what was most useful the last
time I answered a particular question.  I have also occasionally been
asked to "see what new stuff you can find" and neither the patron nor I
remember exactly when we did the search or specifically what search
terms I used.

      For these reasons, if you have space, I would keep searches for 2
years.  I figure once you are past the two year mark, you can treat most
search requests as new topics -- sort of assume enough has changed that
you can start fresh.

I keep search requests(which usually includes the search itself) for one
year--I've had patrons lose the information, or refer back to a previous
search, and it's helpful to have it on file.  But after a year, I toss
them.  I keep ILL receipts for 3 years, because I believe it's a legal
requirement due to copyright law.

I type my search requests into a WORD table, so as to keep them all in
one place and also be able to count them accurately w/o shuffling
through so much paperwork.  I retain the paper versions (original notes)
until after all the action related to the requests is over with -- i.e.,
all of the ILLs that result, etc.  Then I pitch them.  I'd say I end up
pitching orig. paperwork maybe every six months.  


I have half a drawer full...about 5 years worth.  I guess it depends on
what you think you could do with them.  I often get a doc or researcher
who says..."you did a search for me last year (or 2 years ago) and it
was great. Can we do the same one over and update it."  I also use them
for statistics of all sorts.  I have used them for research.Sometimes
things I haven't thought of before and now someone in administration
wants to know. All I know is that there have been times when I was sure
glad to have them...or wished I'l kept more years.

I keep them in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet in the workroom
where no one can get at them but library staff.  And we have a policy
that we do not reveal subject matter to anyone if they ask.  BTW...I
keep only the search form and strategy...not the whole search retrieval.

We have traditionally kept all search request forms for 7 years but no
one seems to know why this time frame was selected. It may have to do
with the physician being sued and the statute of limitations. We
currently keep everything for 7 years because that is what we have
always done.
This just came up in a staff meeting due to the new HIPPA regulations.

I KEEP for one year primarily for statistics on departmental requests;
and to save myself grief for patrons who come back later and say
"remember that search, well I can't find it now.....". I also save
because sometimes it is a difficult search and I save for strategy used
and information retrieval sources. It is listed as one year for our
hospital document retention policy. I'd be interested in what others are
doing as well if you do a list summary.

Don't keep them.  Figure out what information you need from them in
order to track trends, then tabulate that.  Be sure to separate any
information that identifies the client who requested the search from the
search itself.  Do not keep records of who requested searches about what
subjects unless that is helpful in doing future searches for the same
person.

Hi, here's a reply from an "old timer": what I always did was tally
those search requests up every month by type of requestor (eg MD, RN
etc); tally also by topic and resource; and then shred. This nformatin
shouidl not be shared with others. Who requests what info is a
confidential matter, and I would never divulge that. But I did use the
info to track how many searches, what databases I searched, # of
requestors by category, and topics so that I could then determine if I
needed to beef up my collection in certain areas, or develop current
vertical files/reading lists/Internet resource lists on specific topics
of interest that recurred or seemed to be "hot".

can think of a number of uses.  One use would be to help guide you in
deciding what are your organization's training needs.  Another use might
be for planning and budgeting purposes, such as what resources are the
most useful.  The third reason is that you may never know what you will
need to gather information to support or market your services.  (You may
need to know who is using your services and what types of questions are
they
asking.)  Until you get a better idea of the environment you are working
in, I would keep about 3-4 years back.  They can be a good planning tool
or help you to justify changes you want to make.  (They could even give
you an idea when it might be good to schedule your vacation!)
Seriously, statistics are necessary to support your case and the graphs
and charts you can create with this information can speak volumes.

     If you have the clerical help, you might go through and consolidate
the simple requests and retain only the more in-depth ones.  I hope this
helps.
Here is my two cents worth from working in libraries for 20 years....

     I can think of a number of uses.  One use would be to help guide
you in deciding what are your organization's training needs.  Another
use might be for planning and budgeting purposes, such as what resources
are the most useful.  The third reason is that you may never know what
you will need to gather information to support or market your services.
(You may need to know who is using your services and what types of
questions are they
asking.)  Until you get a better idea of the environment you are working
in, I would keep about 3-4 years back.  They can be a good planning tool
or help you to justify changes you want to make.  (They could even give
you an idea when it might be good to schedule your vacation!)
Seriously, statistics are necessary to support your case and the graphs
and charts you can create with this information can speak volumes.

     If you have the clerical help, you might go through and consolidate
the simple requests and retain only the more in-depth ones.  I hope this
helps.
If the old requests contain the right data, by all means save them!

I have used mine to respond (with real data, not estimates), to
questions 
such as:  do the faculty/residents/nurses use the Library?  what do they
ask 
for?  which Service uses it the most? why (patient care? teaching? 
publishing?) is the textbook collection still needed?  is the Cochrane 
Library worth the money?  what web resources do you find most useful?
and 
on and on!  Administrators are always impressed when you can say "Yes, I

have those numbers -- let me get them for you!"

On a more limited basis, I also find it helpful to be able to refer to
them 
when I am asked to "update that search you did for me X months/years
ago" 
--- I can pinpoint exactly when I did the search, what strategy I used,
and 
what resources I provided previously -- saves me a lot of time!

That said, I only keep the actual request forms for 3 years.  The
extracted 
statistical data goes in my "archive" so I can do trend reports.
I used to keep mine for at least a year, in order to refer back to if
similar questions came up; or more likely when the physician came back
and said "I lost the results you gave me "(6 months ago) and suddenly he
needs them NOW...  If I faxed results I would keep the originals; at
least I kept my search strategies.

This was also handy when showing the library committee the impactof my
literature searching... on patient care especially.
Vaginal birth after previous Cesarean deliveryI keep a MS Access
database of search requests, rather than the paper requests themselves.
Makes it easy to keep records of who asked for what, and when, without
worrying about storage space.
I save mine from last years for about 6 months 
-- it seems that I get questions from people
about their old searches - and  end up referring
to them sometimes.

Otherwise, I pitch them. Pitch 'em. Take any data you want to track from
search requests as you receive them or complete them. Then when you toss
those requests it is with a clear conscienceI've always kept them at
least 5 years, but I'm currently debating whether to do that or not.  I
used to have docs come in within a couple of months of my doing the
search to have them ask "Remember that search you did...?"  To them, it
was yesterday, to me it was 'way over and done with.  Or, I've had the
experience of a surgeon asking for the same article (not once, but
twice) I had found in a search a couple of years earlier.  (I actually
keep a copy of the article in his folder!)  Sometimes it's harder than
others to reconstruct a search.  I'm not sure if the docs are getting
smarter, but they don't seem to ask for repeats much any more.
Maintaining the files is a lot of work, even when I only add to them and
clean them out once a year. Practical:  Every once in awhile, we need to
find name/address, who we did something for.  A question arises; we find
a brand new article on the topic, and "Who did we do that for just
awhile ago?"  We could try to create a db for all that, but that is more
work than usually needed.


We used to keep all that paper for 5 to 10 years, never to use them;
only to have to through out 15 years of paper when our previous employer
(an AHEC) was merged away and we became SRH employees.  I saw then all
the wasted time, energy, and paper!  A lot, I must say.  Legal reasons?
Never once used in almost 20 years...

You shouldn't keep them if they in any way connect a subject with an
individual's name. What you have if you do is a BIG confidentiality and
privacy risk.

Back in the 80's, I did that myself. Every search cost so it seemed
cheaper to just run an update search and attach it to a copy of one I
had run before. I filed them by MeSH heading so I could see how I'd
structured a previous search.

Bad mistake. I won't go into the details, but one of my clients used the
information in a manner I had not anticipated and suddenly that search
record was "of interest".

Now -- with the US Patriot Act specifically targeting libraries -- I try
to write down as little as possible.  I don't think that's being
paranoid, but if a document was created and then destroyed it could be
construed as destroying evidence.  We do use a shreder for anything with
a person's name on it ... and cut the names off book check out cards.

As for keeping a record of questions asked ... I don't see anything
wrong with that if you find it helps improve your searching skills.
originally we kept all of the search requests, and the strategies, time,
database - the works.  That soon became impractical, because most
searches are pretty routine. We maintained a log of searches done, with
requestor, general description, department and rank, how many databases
searched.  For the searches that we sweat blood over, we kept the
strategies.  Eventually I gathered the recurring strategies into a
notebook - I still have it, and occasionally refer to it.  

Currently, we retain our search notes for about 6 months, in case
someone has questions about what was searched or terms used, or wishes
to update the search.  Systematic review searches are fully documented
and retained.

In some institutions, the confidentiality of who is researching what can
be an issue. And, I am aware of occasions where administrations have
audited search records for "appropriateness".  This occurred years ago
at the University of Illinois. 
You may wish to not keep the requests for "legal" reasons.  If there is
patient information, you could be in violation of HIPAA.  Secondly,
there is the issue of client confidentiality -- per the MLA Code of
Ethics.  Thirdly, with the USA Patriot Act now in force, you might want
to destroy records routinely which you would not wish to have requested
from federal investigators.  This might not sound relevant to you, but I
have been concerned about any investigations which might focus on my
patrons who are Muslim.  For example, a Muslim physician could have a
professional interest in searching for information concerning infectious
agents which could also be used for WMD's which, however, would look
suspicious to federal agents.

I have never kept my requests mostly because I don't like all that paper
in the file cabinets and under the current environment, I am glad that I
do not.
we keep old search requests in a notebook for a couple of years,
alphabetical by patron last name.  No legal reason, but practical -
because often our docs & other researchers request newer articles on the
same topic, and we like to be able to go back and look at our search
strategies.  (We write down "databases searched" and "search strategies
used" on the back of the request form).  Also, it's nice to have
addresses and phone numbers on file in case the person who takes the
search request forgets to get all the information.

You also want to retain them (for a while, not forever) for those handy
statistics that you will need when you are asked to justify your
library/library services in some way.  In academic libraries, we do a
whole bunch of statistical surveys ("for the greater good"), also.
Are you required to report statistics?   even if you are not -  I have 
found that keeping at least one year  has given me information I need 
for leverage when facing budgeting issues.  Particular questions you may

be faced with are:  What kind of research do you actually do?  Who is 
using your library?  What materials do you provide when responding to a 
a request?  How many Physicians are using library services?  DO we 
really need print journals, why can't you just get it from the 
Internet?  My literature search request form acts as my stats tool also.

 I keep them for 2 years so that I have written evidence of library 
usage. I could fax you a copy of it if you wishWe keep requests for a
couple of months and then shred them after counting them for stats.  We
only keep them for a little so that we can refer back to them if a
search is lost or some other follow-up is requiredI keep stats for my
library committee but not actual requests.  We just note number of
searches we perform for staff. It might be worthwhile to break down the
numbers further since you have the materials ie. by type of staff -
allied health, physicians, nurses, pharmacists etc or by type of
question, diagnosis/therapy/review etc.  It might also be helpful to
pull the difficult ones and keep in a file to help train new
searchers.... but I can't imagine any other reason to retain the
requests. Keep them. We keep spiral notebooks with the subject of the
search , date searched and the requestor. It has only come up 1x, but we
were asked to verify that a physician requested a literature seach for a
deposition.

I just started my present job in a hospital library last summer after 
many years in a large academic library. Although I plan to toss the 
years of searches from previous years, I find the file I've kept of 
searches I've done very useful.  It has the names of patrons I did 
worth for, exactly what they were asking for and I often keep a copy 
of the reply I made on e-mail. I often find I refer to the file because 
I've found a bit more on a topic--this is especially true of searches 
for the administration and ongoing interests of patrons. I've only 
been here 7 or 8 months and I'm sure as the stuff gets older I will 
start tossing but the most recent stuff has been very 
helpful. I have an
Access database where I keep a list of articles
requested (the citation of each one) and who asked for
the article and how I obtained the article. I just
keep that back about two years. I always want to be
able to show what I do for my company! #3 I do keep a
file on each person who asks for a lit search. On the 
notes about the search (stapled together), I place the
date in the corner. If I'm looking thru somebody's
file and notice a date more than a year old, I throw
away that search to save space. Every once in a while
a doctor or other patron will come back with a
question about an old search so I like to have the
searches on hand. I've always heard that whether to
keep them or not is a question of taste for the
librarian. I throw mine out for several reasons, if I need to repeat the
search I 
want it as current as possible and I simply don't have the space to 
keep them.  I have been a director since 1977 and have never 
wished I had kept an old search.  PubMed makes it a snap to 
repeat the search and I guess if I were to change the policy the 
only thing I would consider keeping was to print the search history 
so I could repeat my steps.
e do NOT retain search requests, but I keep a log of
basic statistics: request date, department/position of
person requesting (CVOR/RN, ICU/MD, ADMIN/VP, etc.)
and date completed. I do NOT retain the names of
requesters, due to confidentiality policies. I add
notes for excessively difficult requests -- i.e. what
resources used if outside the "norm." I use the
statistics to report to management as well as to
identify the areas/departments NOT requesting library
services, so I can try to figure out how to improve
services.

I've always kept them at least 5 years, but I'm currently debating
whether to do that or not.  I used to have docs come in within a couple
of months of my doing the search to have them ask "Remember that search
you did...?"  To them, it was yesterday, to me it was 'way over and done
with.  Or, I've had the experience of a surgeon asking for the same
article (not once, but
twice) I had found in a search a couple of years earlier.  (I actually
keep a copy of the article in his folder!)  Sometimes it's harder than
others to reconstruct a search.  I'm not sure if the docs are getting
smarter, but they don't seem to ask for repeats much any more.
Maintaining the files is a lot of work, even when I only add to them and
clean them out once a year.

Pitch 'em. Take any data you want to track from search requests as you
receive them or complete them. Then when you toss those requests it is
with a clear conscience

I save mine from last years for about 6 months 
-- it seems that I get questions from people
about their old searches - and  end up referring
to them sometimes.

Otherwise, I pitch them. I save mine from last years for about 6 months 
-- it seems that I get questions from people
about their old searches - and  end up referring
to them sometimes.

Otherwise, I pitch them. I keep a MS Access database of search requests,
rather than the paper requests themselves.  Makes it easy to keep
records of who asked for what, and when, without worrying about storage
space.

I keep a MS Access database of search requests, rather than the paper
requests themselves.  Makes it easy to keep records of who asked for
what, and when, without worrying about storage space.
I used to keep mine for at least a year, in order to refer back to if
similar questions came up; or more likely when the physician came back
and said "I lost the results you gave me "(6 months ago) and suddenly he
needs them NOW...  If I faxed results I would keep the originals; at
least I kept my search strategies.

This was also handy when showing the library committee the impactof my
literature searching... on patient care especially.
If the old requests contain the right data, by all means save them!

I have used mine to respond (with real data, not estimates), to
questionssuch as:  do the faculty/residents/nurses use the Library?what
do they ask for? which Service uses it the most? why (patient care?
teaching?publishing?) is the textbook collection still needed?  is the
Cochrane Library worth the money?  what web resources do you find most
useful?  andon and on!  Administrators are always impressed when you can
say "Yes, I have those numbers -- let me get them for you!"

On a more limited basis, I also find it helpful to be able to refer to
themwhen I am asked to "update that search you did for me X months/years
ago"--- I can pinpoint exactly when I did the search, what strategy I
used, and
what resources I provided previously -- saves me a lot of time!

That said, I only keep the actual request forms for 3 years.  The
extracted statistical data goes in my "archive" so I can do trend
reports.

I've always kept them at least 5 years, but I'm currently debating
whether to do that or not.  I used to have docs come in within a couple
of months of my doing the search to have them ask "Remember that search
you did...?"  To them, it was yesterday, to me it was 'way over and done
with.  Or, I've had the experience of a surgeon asking for the same
article (not once, but
twice) I had found in a search a couple of years earlier.  (I actually
keep a copy of the article in his folder!)  Sometimes it's harder than
others to reconstruct a search.  I'm not sure if the docs are getting
smarter, but they don't seem to ask for repeats much any more.
Maintaining the files is a lot of work, even when I only add to them and
clean them out once a year. I think it is a good idea to hold on to
searches. Possibly someone else will ask you for the same or similar
search in the past; if you can refer to a previous search or think that
the current request sounds like one you did "about a year ago," you
could save yourself time and effort. 
Also, it would be interesting to trace the kinds of searches requested
from one year to another, e.g. bioterrorism last year, small pox this
year. 
In addition, although you don't need the actual searches, it is good to
keep statistics about how many searches, from which departments, by whom
have been done during a particular year.

e do NOT retain search requests, but I keep a log of
basic statistics: request date, department/position of
person requesting (CVOR/RN, ICU/MD, ADMIN/VP, etc.)
and date completed. I do NOT retain the names of
requesters, due to confidentiality policies. I add
notes for excessively difficult requests -- i.e. what
resources used if outside the "norm." I use the
statistics to report to management as well as to
identify the areas/departments NOT requesting library
services, so I can try to figure out how to improve
services.

I throw mine out for several reasons, if I need to repeat the search I 
want it as current as possible and I simply don't have the space to 
keep them.  I have been a director since 1977 and have never 
wished I had kept an old search.  PubMed makes it a snap to 
repeat the search and I guess if I were to change the policy the 
only thing I would consider keeping was to print the search history 
so I could repeat my steps.

I have an Access database where I keep a list of articles
requested (the citation of each one) and who asked for
the article and how I obtained the article. I just
keep that back about two years. I always want to be
able to show what I do for my company! #3 I do keep a
file on each person who asks for a lit search. On the 
notes about the search (stapled together), I place the
date in the corner. If I'm looking thru somebody's
file and notice a date more than a year old, I throw
away that search to save space. Every once in a while
a doctor or other patron will come back with a
question about an old search so I like to have the
searches on hand. I've always heard that whether to
keep them or not is a question of taste for the
librarian.

I just started my present job in a hospital library last summer after 
many years in a large academic library. Although I plan to toss the 
years of searches from previous years, I find the file I've kept of 
searches I've done very useful.  It has the names of patrons I did 
worth for, exactly what they were asking for and I often keep a copy 
of the reply I made on e-mail. I often find I refer to the file because 
I've found a bit more on a topic--this is especially true of searches 
for the administration and ongoing interests of patrons. I've only 
been here 7 or 8 months and I'm sure as the stuff gets older I will 
start tossing but the most recent stuff has been very 
helpful.

Keep them. We keep spiral notebooks with the subject of the search ,
date searched and the requestor. It has only come up 1x, but we were
asked to verify that a physician requested a literature seach for a
deposition.

I keep stats for my library committee but not actual requests.  We just
note number of searches we perform for staff. It might be worthwhile to
break down the numbers further since you have the materials ie. by type
of staff - allied health, physicians, nurses, pharmacists etc or by type
of question, diagnosis/therapy/review etc.  It might also be helpful to
pull the difficult ones and keep in a file to help train new
searchers.... but I can't imagine any other reason to retain the
requests.

We keep requests for a couple of months and then shred them after
counting them for stats.  We only keep them for a little so that we can
refer back to them if a search is lost or some other follow-up is
required

Are you required to report statistics?   even if you are not -  I have 
found that keeping at least one year  has given me information I need 
for leverage when facing budgeting issues.  Particular questions you may

be faced with are:  What kind of research do you actually do?  Who is 
using your library?  What materials do you provide when responding to a 
a request?  How many Physicians are using library services?  DO we 
really need print journals, why can't you just get it from the 
Internet?  My literature search request form acts as my stats tool also.

 I keep them for 2 years so that I have written evidence of library 
usage. I could fax you a copy of it if you wish

You also want to retain them (for a while, not forever) for those handy
statistics that you will need when you are asked to justify your
library/library services in some way.  In academic libraries, we do a
whole bunch of statistical surveys ("for the greater good"), also.
we keep old search requests in a notebook for a couple of years,
alphabetical by patron last name.  No legal reason, but practical -
because often our docs & other researchers request newer articles on the
same topic, and we like to be able to go back and look at our search
strategies.  (We write down "databases searched" and "search strategies
used" on the back of the request form).  Also, it's nice to have
addresses and phone numbers on file in case the person who takes the
search request forgets to get all the information.

You may wish to not keep the requests for "legal" reasons.  If there is
patient information, you could be in violation of HIPAA.  Secondly,
there is the issue of client confidentiality -- per the MLA Code of
Ethics.  Thirdly, with the USA Patriot Act now in force, you might want
to destroy records routinely which you would not wish to have requested
from federal investigators.  This might not sound relevant to you, but I
have been concerned about any investigations which might focus on my
patrons who are Muslim.  For example, a Muslim physician could have a
professional interest in searching for information concerning infectious
agents which could also be used for WMD's which, however, would look
suspicious to federal agents.

I have never kept my requests mostly because I don't like all that paper
in the file cabinets and under the current environment, I am glad that I
do not.

originally we kept all of the search requests, and the strategies, time,
database - the works.  That soon became impractical, because most
searches are pretty routine. We maintained a log of searches done, with
requestor, general description, department and rank, how many databases
searched.  For the searches that we sweat blood over, we kept the
strategies.  Eventually I gathered the recurring strategies into a
notebook - I still have it, and occasionally refer to it.  

Currently, we retain our search notes for about 6 months, in case
someone has questions about what was searched or terms used, or wishes
to update the search.  Systematic review searches are fully documented
and retained.

In some institutions, the confidentiality of who is researching what can
be an issue. And, I am aware of occasions where administrations have
audited search records for "appropriateness".  This occurred years ago
at the University of Illinois. 

You shouldn't keep them if they in any way connect a subject with an
individual's name. What you have if you do is a BIG confidentiality and
privacy risk.

Back in the 80's, I did that myself. Every search cost so it seemed
cheaper to just run an update search and attach it to a copy of one I
had run before. I filed them by MeSH heading so I could see how I'd
structured a previous search.

Bad mistake. I won't go into the details, but one of my clients used the
information in a manner I had not anticipated and suddenly that search
record was "of interest".

Now -- with the US Patriot Act specifically targeting libraries -- I try
to write down as little as possible.  I don't think that's being
paranoid, but if a document was created and then destroyed it could be
construed as destroying evidence.  We do use a shreder for anything with
a person's name on it ... and cut the names off book check out cards.

As for keeping a record of questions asked ... I don't see anything
wrong with that if you find it helps improve your searching skills.

        Practical:  Every once in awhile, we need to find name/address,
who we did something for.  A question arises; we find a brand new
article on the topic, and "Who did we do that for just awhile ago?"  We
could try to create a db for all that, but that is more work than
usually needed.


        We used to keep all that paper for 5 to 10 years, never to use
them; only to have to through out 15 years of paper when our previous
employer (an AHEC) was merged away and we became SRH employees.  I saw
then all the wasted time, energy, and paper!  A lot, I must say.  Legal
reasons? Never once used in almost 20 years...


        Pitch 'em. Take any data you want to track from search requests
as you receive them or complete them. Then when you toss those requests
it is with a clear conscience.

I save mine from last years for about 6 months -- it seems that I get
questions from people
about their old searches - and  end up referring
to them sometimes.
Otherwise, I pitch them.


        I keep a MS Access database of search requests, rather than the
paper requests themselves.  Makes it easy to keep records of who asked
for what, and when, without worrying about storage space.


        I used to keep mine for at least a year, in order to refer back
to if similar questions came up; or more likely when the physician came
back and said "I lost the results you gave me "(6 months ago) and
suddenly he needs them NOW...  If I faxed results I would keep the
originals; at least I kept my search strategies.
This was also handy when showing the library committee the impactof my
literature searching... on patient care especially.


        If the old requests contain the right data, by all means save
them!

        I have used mine to respond (with real data, not estimates), to
questions 
such as:  do the faculty/residents/nurses use the Library?  what do they
ask 
for?  which Service uses it the most? why (patient care? teaching? 
publishing?) is the textbook collection still needed?  is the Cochrane 
Library worth the money?  what web resources do you find most useful?
and 
on and on!  Administrators are always impressed when you can say "Yes, I

have those numbers -- let me get them for you!"

On a more limited basis, I also find it helpful to be able to refer to
them 
when I am asked to "update that search you did for me X months/years
ago" 
--- I can pinpoint exactly when I did the search, what strategy I used,
and 
what resources I provided previously -- saves me a lot of time!

That said, I only keep the actual request forms for 3 years.  The
extracted 
statistical data goes in my "archive" so I can do trend reports.



        I can think of a number of uses.  One use would be to help guide
you in deciding what are your organization's training needs.  Another
use might be for planning and budgeting purposes, such as what resources
are the most useful.  The third reason is that you may never know what
you will need to gather information to support or market your services.
(You may need to know who is using your services and what types of
questions are they
asking.)  Until you get a better idea of the environment you are working
in, I would keep about 3-4 years back.  They can be a good planning tool
or help you to justify changes you want to make.  (They could even give
you an idea when it might be good to schedule your vacation!)
Seriously, statistics are necessary to support your case and the graphs
and charts you can create with this information can speak volumes.

     If you have the clerical help, you might go through and consolidate
the simple requests and retain only the more in-depth ones.  I hope this
helps.

I used to keep mine for at least a year, in order to refer back to if
similar questions came up; or more likely when the physician came back
and said "I lost the results you gave me "(6 months ago) and suddenly he
needs them NOW...  If I faxed results I would keep the originals; at
least I kept my search strategies.

This was also handy when showing the library committee the impactof my
literature searching... on patient care especially.

I had heard 3 years but with the privacy act allowing the Govt to come
in I no longer hold copies of the searches. Occasionally a Dr. or Hospt
member will lose a search but I feel better for not having confidential
info available from the Library. Which may be illegal but until I am
told specifically, I will continue to only hold Initials plus general
idea of search.


I keep all paperwork ( ILL's, bills paid, statistics, etc.) for 3 years.

Even though it's impossible to keep everything and as soon as you throw
it out you will need it, I keep about seven years of search requests.
The biggest reason is if a physician is hit with a malpractice suit you
can pull out the request and check search terms and hopefully obtain the
exact articles that were obtained before.  I had this very situation
happen and was so happy that I had the paper with my various terms and
notes that I had made to myself available.




Eve Conner, MLIS 
Health Sciences Librarian 
Memorial Medical Center 
1800 Coffee Rd, Suite 43 
Modesto, CA 95355 
Ph: 209-526-4500 x8200 
Fax 209-569-7469 
email: [log in to unmask] 

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November 2004, Week 5
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December 2003, Week 1
November 2003, Week 5
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October 2003, Week 5
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March 2001, Week 3
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December 2000, Week 5
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December 1999, Week 5
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December 1998, Week 5
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January 1998, Week 5
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January 1998, Week 3
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December 1997, Week 5
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December 1995, Week 5
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