WFSA’s Virtual Library

WFSA’s Virtual Library

  • Issue 60

Julian Gore-Booth | CEO, World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists

The World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) first published Update in Anaesthesia (UIA) in 1992. UIA is the official education journal of the WFSA and provides clear, concise and clinically-relevant overview articles for anaesthetists working with limited resources around the world. A particular emphasis has been to provide ongoing learning and support for anaesthetists practising in countries where facilities for clinical practice and educational development are scarce.

Since 2005 the WFSA has also published Anaesthesia Tutorial of the Week (ATOTW), a web-based tutorial. Its aim is to support anaesthesia training, and, although aimed at low income countries (where access to anaesthesia education is often limited) it is used as an educational tool in higher income countries as well and is popular amongst Colleges, University Teaching Hospitals and anywhere where anaesthesiology is taught.

Together UIA and ATOTW now make up over 700 separate articles or tutorials and their archive provides a wealth of information covering all the specialist areas of anaesthesia. The challenge for WFSA was therefore not only to make this extraordinary resource available, but to make it accessible, which in this case meant searchable. This led to the genesis of the “Virtual Library”−an online tool that puts the anaesthesiologist in control of their search – as they would be in a physical library.

Working with the Chair of Publications, Dr. Isabeau Walker, and the Editors of UIA and ATOTW (Drs. Bruce McCormick and Richard Hughes) the WFSA therefore refined its classification system and came up with a design for an online library that allows the user to search by Name of Publication, Primary Category (e.g. Basic Sciences, Intensive Care or Paediatrics), Secondary Category (e.g. Equipment or Pharmacology), Year of Publication and Language.

With a grant from Baxter and working with the UK based website developers Blue Frontier we were able to recreate the physical search online as part of an intuitive and user friendly platform allowing keyword search as well as the traditional library classifications that will be familiar to readers. The result is a hugely improved user experience that quickly brings up the most relevant information available, provides a short descriptor for what is found, gives the size of any item (useful for those with low bandwidths who may decide to delay the download of larger items) and highlights keywords. We encourage any anaesthesiologist, be they teaching, learning, or searching for information on a particular topic to use the library, its content is free to all and can be accessed here:

The library will include other approved material (as well as UIA and ATOTW) and forms part of a wider resource area that seeks to build the value of our federation and make a visit to the website as rewarding as possible. As with all WFSA’s work, the resources that we can make available depend very heavily on the inputs of volunteers so if you are able to support us – for example by writing an article or a tutorial, or even by translating a publication into your own language – then let us know. You can register as a WFSA volunteer online at or you can send an e-mail to highlighting the contribution that you could make.

Finally let me remind all readers of a recent addition to our resource area; the 29th Edition of Update In Anaesthesia (UIA) is now online and available as a complete edition on the UIA page as well as in separate articles which can be searched via the virtual library. Please have a go and let us know how you get on, you can also provide suggestions for other items that you feel should be included in the resource area – provided that these are of broad interest to colleagues, from reputable sources and free from any copyright restrictions that would limit their publication on the WFSA site.