Since information in health sciences changes so rapidly and it is literally life-threatening to be treated by a health professional relying on outdated information, health professionals rely more and more on the journal literature to keep them abreast of developments in their field. One of the earliest scientific journals in the West was published in 1665 by the Royal Society of London and by the mid 20th century the number of scientific serials had grown exponentially. The U.S. National Library of Medicine currently receives over 22,000 serial titles. While McGill gets less than 10% of this figure it is interesting to note that we still currently receive several titles whose subscriptions began in the early nineteenth century and that more and more titles are being received in both print and electronic formats.
It is anticipated that over the next few years the number of electronic journals offered to McGill users will increase dramatically while the number available in print will decline. Though it is difficult to read electronic journals in the bath or on the train their great advantage is that users can access them from any linked computer. Information can now really be at the fingertips of the surgeon in the operating theatre and the physician at the bedside, the nurse in the clinic and the resident in Emergency.