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Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1992 Jul;80(3):294-9.

The medical libraries of Vietnam--a service in transition.

Author information

1
Medical College of Wisconsin Libraries, Milwaukee 53226.

Abstract

The medical libraries of Vietnam maintain high profiles within their institutions and are recognized by health care professionals and administrators as an important part of the health care system. Despite the multitude of problems in providing even a minimal level of medical library services, librarians, clinicians, and researchers nevertheless are determined that enhanced services be made available. Currently, services can be described as basic and unsophisticated, yet viable and surprisingly well organized. The lack of hard western currency required to buy materials and the lack of library technology will be major obstacles to improving information services. Vietnam, like many developing nations, is about to enter a period of technological upheaval, which ultimately will result in a transition from the traditional library limited by walls to a national resource that will rely increasingly on electronic access to international knowledge networks. Technology such as CD-ROM, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), and satellite telecommunication networks such as Internet can provide the technical backbone to provide access to remote and widely distributed electronic databases to support the information needs of the health care community. Over the long term, access to such databases likely will be cost-effective, in contrast to the assuredly astronomical cost of building a comparable domestic print collection. The advent of new, low-cost electronic technologies probably will revolutionize health care information services in developing nations. However, for the immediate future, the medical libraries of Vietnam will require ongoing sustained support from the international community, so that minimal levels of resources will be available to support the information needs of the health care community. It is remarkable, and a credit to the determination of Vietnam's librarians that, in a country with a legacy of war, economic deprivation, and international isolation, they have somehow managed to provide a sound basic level of information services for health care professionals.

PMID:
1525617
PMCID:
PMC225670
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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