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History of the PHT Newsletter, CapLits

  • 1.  History of the PHT Newsletter, CapLits

    Posted 03-21-2023 18:09
    Edited by Susan Gleckner 03-22-2023 11:31

    Did you know that the Pharmaceutical & Health Technology Community (PHT) had its own continuous newsletter for over three decades? I recently skimmed the existing PHT Archives (1947 - 2010) and noted some of the history of CapLits – how it started, what it took to put together, how it was produced and delivered, changing content over the years, the use of color, advertising revenue, increasing costs, and the progression through various production and delivery technologies.

    See archived CapLits Newsletters 2001-2017 here on the PHT Connect site.

    I tried to include the organizations (if known) of people mentioned below to give an idea of the variety of places at which PHT members worked through the years. 

    Watch for an upcoming notice about the revival of CapLits.

     If you have interest in contributing, please contact PHT Communications Chair, Bridget Ryan.


    In 1947 PHT was founded as a Section under the SLA's Science-Technology Division, which itself started in 1923. PHT became a full-fledge Division in 1965.

    While under the Sci-Tech Division, the Pharm Section authored a column in Sci-Tech News. Prior to the launch of a formal newsletter, Pharm Division Chairs, such as Bette Dillehay (A.H. Robins Company; Chair 1982-83), communicated to the membership through occasional mailed letters. 

    With a desire to establish its own newsletter, the Pharm Section formed a Bulletin Committee in 1983 and issued a survey to the membership. 

    In the survey, members said they wanted to see the following in a Pharma Division newsletter: 

    •         news items from the Chair
    •         pharmaceutical library profiles
    •         proposed SLA Annual Meeting Program 
    •         review of workshops given at Annual Meeting for those who could not attend
    •         financial reports
    •        new member list
    •         book reviews
    •        an opinion column
    •         new books bibliography
    •        annual Pharm Division meeting minutes
    •        member news

    The positive membership survey response and a Board vote to not renew the Pharma column in Sci-Tech News (there was a cost involved) gave rise to the PHARM FORUM, the Pharmaceutical Division's own newsletter. 

    In 1984, with an eye toward efficiency and innovation, Rita Coyne (Pennwalt Pharmaceutical), Chair of the Bulletin Committee, contacted vendors Dialog, SDC, and BRS to inquire if they would be willing to electronically publish Pharm Forum. However, unless the Pharm Division could get all SLA Divisions to do the same, the answer was no.

    The first issue of Pharm Forum was printed in April 1985 -- the same year of the inaugural Pharm Spring Meeting (there was a report on that meeting in that issue). The initial Editorial Committee was led by Bulletin Editor Karen Erani (Pfizer). Pharm Forum was laid-out, photocopied in black on white paper, and mailed to every Pharm Division member.

    Pharm Forum - inaugural issue cover April 1985

    In the first issue, the Editorial Committee stated that "It is our hope that [Pharm Forum] will facilitate and encourage the exchange of information and ideas."  Sections included a list of officers, Letters to the Editor, Members in the News, an Open Forum, and a list of new members, including their companies and mailing addresses. 

    Patricia Marsh O'Brien (Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association), 1984-85 Pharm Chair, implored members to contribute to Pharm Forum, saying the bulletin "is a sharing activity, and we as Division members cannot expect one person or even a small few to be solely responsible for it."

    The alliterative Pharm Forum was an apt name for a pharmaceutical librarians' newsletter, but it wasn't long before the Pharm Division received a request from the publisher US Pharmacopoeia to change the name to something less likely to be confused with its publication, Pharmacopeial Forum. Caplets were a relatively new dosage form at that time (the mid-1980s), so Pharm board members Kerry Kushinka and Joanne Lustig (both at Knoll Pharmaceuticals then), tweaked that to come up with the new name CapLits in 1986.  

    CapLits Spring 1997 cover

    CapLits cover Spring 1997

    CapLits Tidbits


    •         The Winter 1995 issue had an article, 'What in the World is the "Web"?!?!' by Mary Talmadge-Grebenar (Bristol-Myers Squibb).
    •          A special issue was published in 1997/98 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Division.


    •  In 1991 it cost $0.23 to mail CapLits; in 1996 it was $0.55.
    •            June 11, 2003 Pharm board meeting minutes noted: "There has also been positive feedback about receiving the issues in envelopes, rather than folded and stapled. The newsletter has been received more quickly by members when distributed in envelopes."


    •          CapLits started accepting paid advertising early on, in 1986 (vol. 2, no. 3). The newsletter enjoyed healthy revenue from these vendor ads for many years. An Advertising Manager handled these relationships.
    •          The Spring 1992 CapLits advertised three open job positions from agencies. Unusual for its day, they all listed salary ranges, from $40K to $50K.
    •           The Pharm Division even advertised itself: 

    Pharm Forum - inaugural issue cover April 1985

      From CapLits Spring 2012. 

    The Division website shown above was replaced by Connect. (The URL shown is no longer accessible.)

    For many years, the Listserv was a popular place to post questions about best practices; the questions and answers were included in issues of CapLits. 

    The LinkedIn Group still exists but is not very active. 

    The Blog was retired upon the advent of Connect.

    •          As a trial, the first PDF issue of CapLits was posted on the PHT web site in the Fall of 2001 (as a trial); a printed version was still mailed until a membership vote in the following spring ended that practice.
    •          Pharm Division meeting minutes of April 14, 2002 recorded: "The publication is moving to an electronic format. Currently that format is PDF.  A future consideration would be HTML. This format would provide additional options including linking capabilities at no extra cost."


    •         The first issue with some color was one page in the Summer 2001 issue.
    •         The first color ads appeared in the March 2003 CapLits: "Thanks to Diane Webb and Theresa Pinnell, we have a great new look that includes color advertisements and inserts."
    •         June 11, 2003 meeting minutes noted: "The feedback has been positive on the color ads. There was a discussion about adding color to the cover, and the group was in favor of trying this new practice."
    •          Fall 2004: "One half of the cost of CapLits comes from the two color sheets, the cost of which should be covered by the color advertisements."
    Pharm Forum - inaugural issue cover April 1985

    CapLits Oct. 2022 - first color cover


    ·        CapLits became a big and impressive production -- the June 2006 issue was 40 pages -- and required coordination of multiple volunteers. For example, from June 14, 2006 meeting minutes: "In summary, here are the resulting Board Positions regarding CapLits for the remainder of 2006, and for 2007: 

    ·        Bulletin Editor I - responsible for identifying and editing content 

    ·        Bulletin Editor II - responsible for soliciting content 

    ·        Bulletin Production Editor I - responsible for layout and preparation of file for printing 

    ·        Bulletin Production Editor II - manages the printing and mailing of CapLits, including any inserted items 

    ·        Bulletin Adverting Manager - responsible for soliciting, collecting, and billing (in conjunction with the treasurer) CapLits advertising"


    Here's an unofficial list of CapLits Editors. (It is likely not comprehensive.)

    •          In 1994, Karen Kreizman (Bristol-Myers Squibb) became Editor of CapLits. Stepped down in 1995.
    •          Molly Bernard and Diana Louden (ZymoGenetics, Inc.) were announced as co-editors in 1995.
    •         Betty Januska (Oakwood Hospital Cancer Center) became Editor in1996.
    •         Marygrace McDonald Record (Merck) became editor in 1998.
    •         Jennifer L. Williams became editor around 2001, Teresa Pinnell joined her and then took over in 2003.
    •          Diane Webb (BizInt) became Production Editor in 2002. 
    •         John Carrey (FOI Services) succeeded her in 2007.
    •         March 26, 2006: Claudia Cuca (Organon) started as Editor in 2004; in March 2006, she said she'd edit two more issues before stepping down as content editor so she can fill a meeting Planner's role in the Division. Imagine that!
    •         Peggy Burnett followed her in 2007 until 2009
    •         Fall 2007: John Carey moved to doing layout
    •         Nov 2009: Praveena Raman (Elan Pharmaceuticals) became editor
    •         Mark Domke (Prescott Medical Communications Group) became Production Editor in 2012
    •         Kimberly Flanagan-Bouchard (Daichi Sankyo) was the most recent editor 

    Jay Fraser, an external graphics designer, did the layout for CapLits issues for many years.

    The most recent CapLits was published six years ago, in the Spring of 2017.  

    There were multiple factors that contributed to CapLits' discontinuation including: diminishing readership of the electronic version, the availability of the graphics designer, content generation, a vacant editor position, and other PHT priorities.

    Watch for an upcoming notice about the revival of CapLits.

     If you have interest in contributing, please contact PHT Communications Chair, Bridget Ryan.


    Thanks to Kerry Kushinka and Kimberly Flanagan-Bouchard for their input into this article.

    Susan Gleckner