Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, Winter 1995/1996, Vol. 6 No. 2-4 *************************

The Role of the Librarian in the Work of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Elaine Keefer, M.S.L.S., and Fred Westbrook, Ph.D.
Health Sciences Center Library, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

The Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act of 1985 resulted in the establishment of the IACUC to review all research protocols involving the use of animals, inspect the institution's animal facilities and animal care program every 6 months, ensure that all personnel working with animals are properly trained in the care and use of animals, respond to any reports of improper treatment of animals, and act as the conscience of the institution in the care of its laboratory animals.

The Information Needs of the IACUC

The members of the IACUC and those using animals in education, testing, and research need to be made aware of the Animal Welfare Act amendments of 1985 and the regulations for the care and use of animals provided in the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 9, Chapter 1, Subchapter A--Animal Welfare). They need to know how to access printed and online bibliographies on topics such as care and use of specific species in the laboratory, animal models in biomedical research, alleviation of pain in animals, and use of alternatives in research using animals. The librarian can provide the following information services to meet these needs:

Maintenance of a file of resources

National Agricultural Library (NAL) and National Library of Medicine (NLM) publications on animal welfare and use of animals in the laboratory (see box).

Newsletters from animal welfare organizations such as the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW) and the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT).

Provision of database-searching service to allow principal investigators opportunities to provide assurances that their research does not duplicate work already done and that their procedures are carried out with a minimum of discomfort to the animals. This service is also necessary for investigators to determine if there are alternative species lower on the evolutionary scale that could be used in the research or if in vitro methods could be used.

Promotion of information on animal welfare publications, audiovisuals, internet resources, and database searching tips in the publications of the institution the librarian serves, such as the library newsletter or the Department of Animal Resources newsletter.

Development of Library Services for the IACUC at Emory University

In 1987, the chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Emory University requested that a librarian on the Health Sciences Center Library (HSCL) staff be appointed as liaison for the IACUC. Elaine Keefer was assigned that role and it has been a very challenging and rewarding experience. The first task was to check the bibliographies in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), against Emory University Libraries holdings. Items not owned were checked by the chair of the IACUC to submit for purchase with the understanding that some items might not be purchased but obtained, if needed, through interlibrary loan.

In 1988, the IACUC sent Keefer to the Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) located in the NAL, and to the Office of Veterinary Affairs at the NLM, to acquaint her with the resources available on animal welfare and the use of laboratory animals in biomedical research. Using the resulting lists of resources and contact persons, she prepared a brochure to send to Emory personnel working with animals announcing that in response to the Animal Welfare Act amendments of 1985, the HSCL had assessed the Emory University collection and was prepared to support their information needs. Emphasis was placed on available databases that would help them provide the assurances requested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that they were not unnecessarily duplicating research and that they had searched the literature for possible alternatives to painful or distressful procedures applied to the animals.

In 1991, Jean Larson, Coordinator, Animal Welfare Information Center, was contacted to plan for an AWIC workshop at Emory. IACUC members, researchers, and librarians at Emory were invited and assembled in the HSCL classroom for a half-day session. The thrust of the presentation was the "3R's" of Russell and Burch--reduce, refine, and replace--and the importance of assurances by principal investigators that they have searched the literature to determine if they can apply one or more of the "3R's" to their research. Multi-database searching was stressed as the way to provide these assurances. The workshop was a great success in raising awareness among the three groups of people that attended. Shortly thereafter, Keefer was invited to be an ex-officio member of the IACUC. In 1992, she was invited to become a voting member of the IACUC and pursue these activities along with additional duties such as reviewing applications for the IACUC's monthly protocol review meeting and participating in the animal facilities inspection every 6 months.

Laboratory Animal Care and Use Training and the Emory Information


Another responsibility of the IACUC is to document that personnel have received training in the care and use of the animals with which they are working. A committee consisting of the IACUC chair, the university veterinarian, the head of the HSCL Media Services, and Keefer decided on a test for certification. This certification at Emory is given on completion of an audiovisual/computerized test produced by the Laboratory Animal Training Association (LATA). The LATA program best suited our need to provide training to over 900 people working with animals at Emory and use our new developing information infrastructure. Our ultimate goal is to provide access to the video training tapes via a campus cable station accessible to personnel at all Emory vivarium locations. Unfortunately, off-campus sites do not yet have the cable access needed and are being served by scheduling the tapes for group viewings at their departments or in the library. By the time we received our tapes, the deadline for certification was very close and several hundred people requested access within a short period of time, which became a real challenge to the staff in Media Services.

The ultimate goal for access to the computerized test is for people to be able to access the library server via MS-DOS and Ethernet on their PC's. However, remote locations are not on Ethernet and some sites on campus cannot get into the server because of the security system protecting patient records at Emory Hospital and Clinic. Happily, another route was found to access the computerized test by using a modem to dial in with Norton pcANYWHERE software. We also have stations in HSCL Media Services for those without remote computer access.

Needless to say the job of trying to clarify these access problems to the over 900 Emory people has been a challenging one, and we report on this in hopes that it will alert others to possible pitfalls.

The LATA software for the tests provides a report system that lists names of participants, their department, the titles of tests they took, and their grades. In all there are nine training videotapes to view, depending on the person's animal care activities, with tests for five of these tapes (see appendix). The chair of the IACUC can view these results, sorting out those with grades below 60 to be notified to repeat the test, and then print out the report to send to LATA. LATA then provides certificates for each of the five tests that were successfully completed, charging the IACUC $3 per test taken and $3 per certificate prepared and mailed.

Concerns of a Librarian on the IACUC

According to Keefer, her role as an IACUC member has taken her beyond her library concerns and into a world of ethical decision-making that the IACUC deals with at monthly meetings with vigor and care. In addition to Keefer, who is a lay representative as well as liaison for the HSCL, there are 20 members of the Emory IACUC: 6 veterinarians, 2 veterinary interns, a clergy, the director of the Atlanta Humane Society, the director of the Office of Sponsored Programs, and 9 faculty/research members. Our members come from the Yerkes Primate Center and the Veterans Administration Medical Center, as well as Emory campus departments. This allows an excellent array of expertise with which to review the varied applications the IACUC receives. Keefer explains that it has been gratifying, as one of the lay representatives, to see the committee's great concern that the applicants' presentations of their reasons for doing their project and their descriptions of the procedures that will be used on the animals are given in lay terms as requested by USDA and NIH. Of key importance is their careful monitoring of the assurances, required in 9 CFR , Sec. 2.31d, that alternative models are not available and that the research does not unnecessarily duplicate previous work. The methods and sources used to determine this are provided, and any database(s) searched are listed with date of last search attached. The main duty of the lay representative is to question any shortcomings in the foregoing concerns and any other discrepancies that might appear in a protocol. However, as a librarian, Keefer's main duty is to provide information to the committee and to the applicants about databases and resources that might shed further light on an area of research or testing.

Resource File

1. NAL publications

a. Bibliographies

b. Newsletters

2. NLM publications

a. NLM Current Bibliographies in Medicine

b. SRB Specialized Bibliography Series
(These can be found in the monthly issues of Index Medicus.)

3. Animal Welfare organizations' newsletters

a. SCAW (Scientists Center for Animal Welfare)
SCAW Newsletter

b. CAAT (Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing)
The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing

4. Key databases that cover animal care and research involving the use of animals

5. Animal welfare organizations
Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC)
U.S. Department of Agriculture
National Agricultural Library
5 th Floor
10301 Baltimore Ave.
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351

SCAW Scientists Center for Animal Welfare
Golden Triangle Building One
7833 Walker Drive Suite #340
Greenbelt, MD 20770

CAAT The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing
The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health
111 Market Place, Suite 840
Baltimore, MD 21202-6709

6. LATA Integrated Training Program
Laboratory Animal Training Program (LATA)
54 Remington Dr Suite 301
Highland Village, TX 75067

Tape #1 - The New Research Environment

Tape #2 - The New Research Environment
Tape #3 - The Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (TEST AVAILABLE)
Tape #4 - The Humane Care and Use of the Mouse, Rat and Hamster (TEST AVAILABLE)
Tape #5 - The Human Care and Use of the Rabbit and Guinea Pig (TEST AVAILABLE)
Tape #6 - The Humane Care and Use of the Dog and Cat (TEST AVAILABLE)
Tape #7 - The Humane Care and Use of Nonhuman Primates (TEST AVAILABLE)
Tape #8 - Aseptic Surgery of Rodents
Tape #9 - Anesthesia and Analgesia of Rodents

For additional information, contact Elaine Keefer M.S.L.S., HSCL Reference Librarian, (Tel: (404) 727-0286 or e-mail: or Dr. Fred Westbrook, Director Media Services HSCL, (Tel: (404) 727-5812 or e-mail:, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322.

This article appeared in the Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, Volume 6, Number 2-4, Winter 1995/1996

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