Academic and training affairs – Health Science Digital Library

Since 1983
Health Science Digital Library is one of the pioneer sections since the establishment of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, the Health Sciences Digital Library is dedicated to providing comprehensive information services that advance research, teaching and patient care to KFSH&RC healthcare professionals and students.  It also allows its users to locate, select and use knowledge resources anywhere in the world, whether in print or online.  In recent years, particular emphasis has been placed on advancing access to electronic information such as e-journals, e-books and virtual multimedia resources.  It currently subscribes to 16 database sources of 303 , 477 e-books, 45,490 e-journals, 11,724 videos and printed books and back issues of printed journals. 

Growth and Development
The Medical Library has been one of the fundamental units of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center since it was opened in 1975. Operating initially under Technical and Support Services, it started with around 2,300 printed books and 84 journal subscriptions, occupying a small space of two rooms at the second floor of the main hospital building.  A Library Committee was established in 1981 primarily to develop related policies and act in an advisory capacity with respect to acquisition of library materials.  By year 1982, the Medical Library moved to a bigger location on the 3rd floor of the Research Center allowing the library to hold more book collections, an audiovisual room, three study rooms and storage space. 

In November 1983, the Medical Library started to function under the leadership of the Office of Academic and Research Affairs and began to develop its automated and electronic capacities.  Among other tasks the library was involved in acquiring new programs in support of postgraduate education and research, in particular the development of computer assisted instruction programs to prepare residents and interns for examinations.  A Clinical Medical Librarian program was instituted to provide research services to consultants and house staff.  The library began to publish brochures and a monthly Medical Library Bulletin on services offered.

Computer hardware and software were acquired to implement "DataTrek," an automated library system that streamlined user registration, classification and cataloging of books, and circulation of library materials.  The library was subscribing to the "CD Plus" database, and a number of PC's were available for online public cataloging.  Comprehensive literature searches were re-introduced electronically and, by 1989, extensive planning for the installation and implementation of an integrated library system was laid out.  Electronic cataloging was introduced in 1991, representing the first stage of the library automation project.  Subsequently, the barcoding phase of automation was completed, a circulation module introduced, and end-user searching was implemented.  Meantime, expansion of library acquisitions was also being pursued actively.  With rising dependability on technology, the Medical Library was able to upgrade to 20,000 books, 772 journal subscriptions, 2,300 audiovisual materials and use of a 54 - CD - drive tower for searching literature.  Towards the end of 1992, it was considered the premier Medical Library in the Middle East .

At the height of its prestige, the library then moved to its current location on the 3rd floor of the New Expansion Building where it boasted of bigger space and more subscriptions.  At this time, the name Medical Library was more appropriately changed to Health Sciences Library.  A new library system called "GLAS" was implemented in 1993, which indicated the completion of an integrated library system.  In the succeeding year the Health Sciences Library attracted 80,000 visitors per year with approximately 13,350 registered users.

The advent of internet at the turn of the century prompted drastic technological changes in terms of the library's management system, accessibility and journal subscriptions.  From GLAS, all bibliographical data were converted to Horizon v.7.3, a 21st century information service used by other leading libraries worldwide.  Journal subscriptions no longer necessitated hard copies as it could now be made available online.  Since then, the library started subscribing to more online databases such as Science Direct, Wiley, OVID and Springer.  By 2010, the Health Sciences Library had transformed into a digital library with 80% of its resources accessible online, with enhanced browsing and downloading of full-text materials made possible.  Presently, it is promoting the use of Health Sciences Library Portal (Ac - Knowledge), an online resource that any KFSH & RC library user can access anywhere at any time, with 30 database sources of 14,500 e-books and 10,700 e-journal subscriptions.  It continues to hold more than 22,000 printed books and 100,000 back issues of printed journals.

Since 2019, many significant achievements for Health Science Digital Library:

  • Establishment of online Digital Library website (new portal)
    • General and Medical Databases (Saudi Digital Library, Proquest, Springshare, Up-To-Date)
    • Provide all Online services
    • Accessible and easy to use from internal and external accesses
    • Available and beneficial to all users (students, medical and non-medical users)
    • Updatable system

  • Complete the educational video for Digital Library website
  • Complete the LibGuide website to especially support all medical departments.
    • LibGuides is a content management and information sharing system designed specifically for medical libraries. This platform effectively invites collaboration between librarians and instructors from medical departments to meet the medical research needs and other references.

The Health Sciences Digital Library
continues to uphold its role as the primary information resource for healthcare and research professionals and students, not only in KFSH&RC but in the entire region.  As the internet and other technological advances, the Health Sciences Library will continue to adapt and deliver the best possible information services to its users.