MLA’s backmed-exchange is a list devoted exclusively to the informal exchange of medical serial back issues and books among libraries. The list provides a forum for the listing of both available and desired serial issues and books in primarily medical subject areas. Backmed-exchange is an open, voluntary, unregulated, but self-governing email forum. 

Need to remove duplicate or older print journal issues from your collection? Have print books you need to give away because of space constraints? Consider sharing them with the wider medical library community instead of tossing! 

Subscribe now to the MLA-hosted backmed-exchange community and share your uneeded journals with your colleagues.

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15 Backmed-Exchange Guidelines

Guidelines were agreed to by the BACKMED subscriber community in 2003. Many thanks to Mark McKenney for providing copies! Minor editorial and fact changes have been made to reflect the changed hosting and name of the list.

Below is a list of guidelines, not laws or rules. They are voluntary. However, these guidelines have been gleaned from years of experience and, if followed, will definitely promote a better functioning experience. They should provide beneficial to newcomers on the list, but we can all benefit from them. (We were all newbies once, remember?) The guidelines are not intended to incorporate every possible little problem or pet peeve that we all have, but an attempt to include the major issues that seem to come up repeatedly …. Keep the journal humor coming, keep it in good taste. We aren’t the “stuffy librarians.”

  1. Indicate in your subject whether your email is for available or needed journals or books.
    These four issue elements are absolutely necessary: Journal Title, Volume#, Issue #, and Year.
    “State Needs” is acceptable when offering a large amount of the same journal title. Please state approximately what Vol. and Year range is available. 
  2. If at all possible list the journal issues alphabetically and in numerical order.
  3. Do not post attachments.
  4. We agree to disagree whether a posting contains 1 title or multiple titles. There are valid arguments for both methods. **However-if you post only 1 title in your email, please put the journal’s title in the subject line. 
  5. Limit offerings to medical, nursing, allied health, & science journals only! Please, no art, history, or other non-medical field journals. You will need to find another resource to offer those materials.
  6. Keep your listing format easy to read. A blank line between titles is much easier on a busy librarian’s eyes. 
  7. If you have 5 issues of the same volume to offer, please do not put them on separate lines. All it does is frustrate the reader due to continuous scrolling. Put them on one line together, like this example:

    JAMA 2003 v.290 #1,3,4,5,8
  8. Use plain text and a plain background in your email.
  9. Please be careful using abbreviations. We all know JAMA and NEJM, but if you type Clin Lab it could be at least two different journals. Be sure any abbreviation is very clear. 
  10. Shipping and packaging: We’ve learned the hard way that many thinner envelopes cannot be recycled for shipping–they are destroyed between the sender and recipient. Only reuse the thicker cushioned envelopes. Sturdy boxes should be used for bound volumes and all packages/boxes should always be secured with a generous portion of strong tape. Make sure you’ve either removed all previous labels or marked them out.
  11. Postage reimbursement: Please be a good recipient of journal issues. Our exchange program survives with the prompt reimbursement of postage, unless waived by the sender. Senders: Do you expect postage reimbursement? Some do and some don’t … please don’t make us guess! And, if so, by what means (stamps, check, either, etc.)? Also, if reimbursement by check is acceptable, could you provide the desired name of the payee? Make it easier for postage to be returned, make sure you’ve included the mailing address! Consider including an address sticker for the recipient to use on their envelope for your reimbursement.
  12. Will you ship via Library Rate? Most libraries try to take advantage of the cheaper library rate when shipping journals, but some have no control over how their mail room sends packages. In most cases, they have been so kind as to stipulate that reimbursement at library rate is expected regardless of how the package is shipped. We applaud this generous course of action.
  13. Will you be able to respond to each individual request or not? Whatever the case, please state your policy. Obviously, it really helps to know the status of our request, but if that is not possible, at least it is good to know that we should not expect to receive a reply.
  14. Requesters: Make sure you type your shipping address in your request, and format it to keep your local Post Office happy. Make sure to include any additional information needed by your local Post Office for delivery (Building Name/Number, Room Number, etc.) Keep in mind that Government shippers cannot send to intersections. A typical address might look like this:

    Your Name
    Your Library, Hospital, College, University, etc.
    Your Street Address (123 Address Street)
    Anywhere, US ZIP+4-CODE

    Please do not send back the entire listing with your email, but include just the issue(s) you want. Save a tree for the senders’ printer.
  15. Back issue dealers are welcome to participate under the following conditions:
    1. You must identify yourself immediately as a dealer.
    2. As you are going to resell the issues you obtain from us at a premium price, you are expected to pay more than just postage costs.
    3. You are expected to pay the sending library within 30 days of receipt of journal issues. Our invoice is no different in importance than your phone bill or electric bill.

Why have we set these conditions? Because one back issue dealer misused our friendliness and good will to the point most list members refuse to do business with said company.

Written by the Members of Backmed, 9/15/2003