Developing a Library Collection in Bioinformatics: Support for an Evolving Profession

Developing a Library Collection in Bioinformatics: Support for an Evolving Profession

Victoria Martin (George Mason University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1897-8.ch016
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Abstract

This chapter provides guidelines for developing a university library collection for bioinformatics programs. The chapter discusses current research and scholarly communication trends in bioinformatics and their impact on information needs and information seeking behavior of bioinformaticians and, consequently, on collection development. It also discusses the criteria for making collection development decisions that are largely influenced by the interdisciplinary nature of the field. The types of information resources most frequently used by bioinformaticians are described, specific resources are suggested, and creative options aimed at finding ways for a bioinformatics library collection to expand in the digital era are explored. The author draws on literature in bioinformatics and the library and information sciences as well as on her ten years of experience providing bioinformatics user services at George Mason University. The chapter is geared towards practicing librarians who are charged with developing a collection for bioinformatics academic programs as well as future librarians taking courses on collection development and academic librarianship.
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Background

Definition of Bioinformatics

There is no unified or comprehensive definition of bioinformatics in the existing journal and reference literature (Altman & Mooney, 2006; Buehler & Rashidi, 2005; Fenstermacher, 2005; Hancock & Zvelebil, 2004; Rédei, 2008; Tramontano, 2009) and the perception of what bioinformatics means is still evolving. The challenge of defining bioinformatics is due to the constantly changing scope of the discipline, which encompasses many areas of study such as DNA sequence alignment and the analysis of protein structure and function, as well as to the blurring boundaries between bioinformatics and emerging research fields such as neuroinformatics and ecoinformatics. Although the definition of bioinformatics is still the matter of some debate, the underlying idea in these various definitions of this term is the overlapping of two main fields—biology (the study of life) and informatics (the science of processing data for storage and retrieval), hence giving rise to the name bioinformatics. For the purpose of this chapter, bioinformatics is defined in general terms as the application of computers and computational techniques for the interpretation of biological data.

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