The BMA Library - a transformed service

The transformed British Medical Association's Library is now a key benefit of membership

The Library of the British Medical Association (BMA) has been in existence since 1887 but has undergone what its Librarian, Jacky Berry, has called ‘a twenty-first century makeover'. 

The Library helps support the clinical practice, research and professional development of the BMA's members and is one of the benefits of membership.

The key elements of the initial library transformation project led by Jacky included:

  • The relocation of the library within the BMA building
  • The integration of the main clinical library for doctors with the BMA staff library
  • The relocation of the archive store to be closer to the main Library
  • The installation of a new library management system
  • The restructuring of the library team

The Library is now seen as a major element of the benefits package that BMA offers its members and is marketed as part of its recruitment and retention programme.    Library usage has increased tenfold both in visitor numbers, requests via the website and the loans of materials. The service has also helped recruit over 300 new members over the past year.

This has been achieved by getting out and talking to members about the benefits of what is on offer.   Jacky has worked with the marketing department, organised open evenings for members, visited members in their workplaces, spoken to students at universities, helped create innovative marketing materials and delivered presentations about the Library - both face-to-face and as webcasts.  She has also ensured internal stakeholders are aware of the services on offer so they can act as advocates. 

What next for the Library?

So what does the future hold? An increased virtual presence of information support via the website giving members access 24/7 is key to its success. E-resources are critical to achieve this and hard negotiations need to be had with publishers who see membership organisations as a bit of an anomaly when offering realistic prices. But Jacky is determined that the BMA Library will continue to be a huge value for its members simply by them knowing how important it is to their working lives. It also continues to be important to support the strategy of the BMA and convince the holders of the purse to invest to accumulate. One way Jacky has proved this is by showing a return on investment. In 2008 the transaction cost of the service per member was £8.50, in 2009 £5 and £3.38 in 2010.

This success story from the BMA proves that a Library can be a central resource for any organisation by making it relevant to its users and aligning services to the strategy that needs to be delivered.

Photo: courtesy of the BMA