Plymouth Medical Library

Collection History
Collection Management
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1.      Strategic Aims
The overarching Strategic Aims are:
  • To preserve and conserve the Historic Collection
  • To make the Historic Collection accessible both physically and electronically
  • To widen access to the Historic Collection to public audiences including schools, universities, academics, local interest groups and all NHS staff
In 2005, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant to Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and Plymouth Medical Society to support these aims.
Under the agreement the Collection remains the property of the Plymouth Medical Society but is housed and managed by the Discovery Library based at Derriford Hospital.

2.      Access
Under the terms of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Historic Collection is to be promoted and made available to the public.
General Principles
Safety of the Collection is paramount. Physical access to the Collection will therefore be subject to conditions and compliance with Conditions of Use. Access will be monitored and users will be provided with the appropriate tools, help and support to safeguard the collection. Access to the original will only be permitted if any available digitised content is insufficient. Access to particularly fragile material may be restricted.
Internet and digital technology will be used to extend and promote access to a wider audience. The Collection catalogue and images database will be made available online.
Loans of Collection material are not normally permitted. Temporary removal, however, may be made to the PMS for an agreed purpose and period of time. A notice of 1 month will need to be given for such arrangements to ensure availability.
The project will carry out educational activities to extend awareness, understanding and use of the Collection.
Exhibitions may be mounted at appropriate, secure venues from time to time.
Library staff will respond to all reasonable enquiries regarding the Collection.
3.      Education and Outreach
Project aims to ensure that the resources of the Collection are accessible to the widest possible audience for study, in line with the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council’s vision of “Inspiring Learning for All”. The digitisation project and website development will naturally open the resource for study to a much wider audience around the country and abroad.
The Project aims to increase awareness of the Collection, its contents and its uses as a resource through working with a range of partners including:
  • West Devon Public Record Office
  • Plymouth City Library
  • Plymouth City Museum in Plymouth
  • Higher Education providers
  • Local Education Authorities
  • Further Education Sector
  • Schools
  • Adult education providers
Educational resources will be designed and produced in conjunction with local teachers/lecturers. This might include educational resource packs, talks/ presentations etc.
Please contact us on if you would like to discuss how we might be able to help you.
4.      Preservation and Conservation

This policy does not cover digital images; please refer to the Digitisation Policy for relevant information.
In archival terms preservationincludes any action taken to prevent damage occurring, for example by storing material in a suitable and secure environment, packing it in an appropriate way, removing surface dirt. It does not involve any direct intervention in the structure or physical make-up of the document and is work that can be undertaken by suitably trained staff or volunteers.

Conservation on the other hand goes one stage further and aims to prevent continuation of damage that has already occurred by halting the process with minimal intervention. This can include de-acidification of papers, repair of tears or making good of holes which threaten the stability of the document, re-sewing broken binding structures, and removal of substances which obscure or threaten the legibility of the text.

The Project aims to preserve the archive as a whole, to act as custodians on behalf of the Plymouth Medical Society and to conserve documents in danger of continued damage. At all times every effort will be made to protect the physical integrity and historical authenticity of the collection.

This will be achieved by
  • Maintaining the Collection in a secure environment using archival quality storage materials as far as possible
  • Using appropriate security measures such as the Discovery Library CCTV system.
  • Conserving works that will deteriorate rapidly without such intervention based on professional assessment or are unavailable for viewing due to poor condition. Any conservation work will be documented and carried out by a professional conservator
  • Preventing unnecessary handling of the original material through a programme of digitisation
  • Allowing users monitored reference use only, and providing them with all necessary equipment such as book-rests.
  • Ensuring that staff working with the Collection are appropriately trained
  • Maintaining an up to date Disaster Management Policy
  • Constantly monitoring the physical condition of the Collection, and cleaning the secure storage area on a regular basis
5.      Digitisation
To provide digital images for educational, outreach and promotional purposes
To increase access to and promote use of the Collection
To provide a surrogate copy of at risk material
Criteria for consideration for digitisation:
·         of whole documents-
o        They are unique, and digitisation will therefore vastly increase access to them
o        To provide a surrogate copy of extremely fragile material that would be put at risk by handling
·         of parts of documents-
o        Illustrations of historical or artistic merit
o        To demonstrate the content of a volume
o        Where reference is made to local events/personalities
o        For use in specific outreach, education and promotional activities
Efforts will be made to avoid duplication of existing freely available digital material
A digitised image will not replace the original but will provide a surrogate copy
Selection of material will reflect the needs of end users, and will respect the variety of user groups
6.      Collection Development
The value of the current collection is in its existence as an historical whole, representing the collecting of the Plymouth Medical Society and the development of medicine in the region. The integrity and archival provenance of both the Collection and any additional works must be protected in any acquisition process.
There will be a strong presumption against disposal and permanent withdrawal from the Collection, and an ethical acquisition and disposal policy will be followed at all times.
Additions to the Collection which supplement its use as an historical and educational resource in charting the work of the PMS and the history of medicine nationally and locally will be welcomed.
However, every item added to the Collection will require the use of both funds and dedicated space to care for and house it to the appropriate standards. Due to limitations on both of these resources, acquisition will be restricted to items satisfying agreed criteria.
Any acquisitions will be owned by the Plymouth Medical Society and placed in the care of the Discovery Library under the terms laid down in the existing loan agreement (see Appendix 1). Under this agreement acquisitions will form part of the collection which is in the care of the Library for a period of 20 years, and will be included in the objectives of the current HLF project.
All depositors will be made aware of policy and ownership issues before any deposit is made.
Acquisition criteria
The final decision regarding accession will be made by the Trustees of the PMS in collaboration with the Library Services Manager.
Each item will be judged on its own merits, but the following criteria will be used in all bar exceptional circumstances.
  • The Collection must be an appropriate place for deposit of an item, and its accession should complement existing Library policy. (For example, hospital administrative records should be deposited in the appropriate PRO).
  • In the process of acquiring an item, an existing historic collection must not be broken up.  
  • An item will not be duplicated within the Collection unless it contains unique material, or it is in better condition than the existing copy and its accrual is cost effective (i.e. it is cheaper to acquire and process the new copy than it is to conserve the old copy to the same standard). An effort will also be made not to duplicate works easily available for free access at another site in the locality. 
  • The condition of an item is to be carefully considered, and only items in good condition should be acquired unless there is sound reason otherwise. The accession of an item uses finite resources and if the item is in poor condition the process of accessioning, preserving and conserving it to a standard where it can be accessed can prove prohibitively expensive. An item in poor condition may also pose a threat to the existing collection (for example due to damp or mould).  
  • An item must complement and enhance the Collection as an historical and educational resource. An item should therefore match one or more of the following –  
    • It is of local historical medical interest
    • It is rare and of national historical medical interest
    • It has intrinsic historical value as a seminal work in its field
    • It relates directly to the activities of the PMS
There is a strong presumption against disposal from the Collection. However, disposal may be considered in certain circumstances; for example, if an item upon assessment is deemed to be beyond reasonable repair or conservation, or if an item is duplicated and contains no unique information or additions/alterations. The Trustees of the Plymouth Medical Society in collaboration with the Library Services Manager will make the final decision regarding disposal of an item.
If disposal is on the basis of being beyond reasonable repair, consultation with a professional conservator will be obtained before a final decision is made.
An item will be considered for digitisation prior to disposal.
An item to be disposed of will be offered first to similar non-charging institutions and to members of the PMS.

Copyright 2008 Discovery Library, Derriford Hospital, Derriford Road, Plymouth PL6 8DH
Plymouth Medical Society Historic Collection, Discovery Library, Derriford Hospital, Derriford Road, Plymouth. Devon PL6 8DH.