Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, EastEnders was only a year old and the average UK house price was less than £40,000. It was the year 1986, and the MIDIRS Reference Database had just been delivered into the world to an expectant midwifery community.
From its humble beginnings in the filing cabinets of a small, tatty basement office in Camden, London (the first article added to the Database was, rather appropriately, entitled ‘In search of the future’), the MIDIRS Reference Database is now a sophisticated online facility boasting almost 186,000 records relevant to the midwifery profession.
Here in the information team, we spend many hours a week casting our eagle eyes over an exhaustive range of medical journals in an effort to find information that might be of use to our subscribers. We also use a daily news aggregator, which casts its net far and wide to seek out the very latest midwifery news on the internet (so comprehensive is this service, that I inadvertently followed every step of Beyonce’s seemingly endless pregnancy).
It’s safe to say we’ve got every angle covered.
But in this ‘on demand’ age of Google, iTunes and the BBC iPlayer, where anything from your favourite newspaper to the latest episode of Call The Midwife is available free of charge pretty much instantly, some people might question why the MIDIRS Reference Database still charges subscribers for full text and offers photocopies rather than downloadable full-text PDFs.
Well, we could supply the full text of everything on the Database, and we could provide online access to journal publishers where you could download full-text PDFs. We could do both of those things, but we would probably have to sell our office building, our PCs and our much-loved kettle in order to pay for it! We wouldn’t be much use to you sat out on the street without any computers and not even a cup of tea to keep us going.
That’s the stark reality of what we do here at MIDIRS. We’re a charitable organisation and thus don’t have limitless funds to pay for exorbitant copyright licences and online access to journal websites. Every penny we receive in subscriptions and photocopy requests goes straight back into ensuring we give you the best service possible.
If you’re a student, your university is able to supply full-text access to journals online because of the fees they charge you; for us to do the same would lead to massive increases in our subscription rates, and that’s not something we would ever want to do.
What you do get from us is the reassurance that when you carry out a search on our Database, you do so knowing that everything from Cochrane right down to the Daily Mail (if that’s your sort of thing) will have been scrutinised for the latest research, evidence and news relating to your profession. It’s a one-of-a-kind one-stop-shop.
We’re refusing to rest on our laurels, however, and are keen to find out exactly what our users think of the Database. Some of you may already have received an email with details of a survey we’re carrying out, but if not, we’d be really grateful if you could spare a few moments to help us make our Database even better.
It includes a mere nine questions, and you can sail through it in about two minutes. So, just click here to zip through it.
We’re currently working on some exciting new developments that we hope will make the Database even easier to use. We’ll let you know the details as soon as we know more, but in the meantime, happy searching!
Photo Credit: Fotolia.com – Raven