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National Library of Medicine Celebrates 30 Years of Progress and Charts the Future

The Honorable Louis Sullivan, M.D.

The Honorable Louis Sullivan, M.D., former Secretary of Health and Human Services, told those assembled, "It's hard for me to imagine a world without the National Library of Medicine."
Photo courtesy of NIH

NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D.

NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., stands with one of NLM's signature accomplishments, the Visible Human Project, a digital library of the human anatomy.
Photo courtesy of NIH

On Wednesday, May 14, 2014, leaders in medicine, science, IT, and librarianship convened at the Natcher Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, to reflect on the contributions the National Library of Medicine has made over the last 30 years, and help chart its course for the future.

They were drawn to "The National Library of Medicine, 1984–2014: Voyaging to the Future" symposium, co-sponsored by the NLM Board of Regents, the Friends of the NLM, and the Medical Library Association. The event was the library's first step in developing its next long-range plan.

NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., reflected on major achievements he said stemmed from the ideas of the people who served on NLM's long-range planning groups and advisory committees, many of whom were in the audience.

"If you hear something you like, take credit for it," he said as he described the genesis of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); the Visible Human Project (a digital library of the human anatomy); the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS), which helps computer systems work together; outreach to the underserved; and 24/7 access to information.

The Honorable Louis Sullivan, M.D., former Secretary of Health and Human Services who served on an NLM planning group, said, "It's hard for me to imagine a world without the National Library of Medicine."

He added, "The NLM has, over the past 30 years, radically altered how scientists, health professionals, and the public find the information they need for research, practice, and personal use."

"NLM has been characterized as one of the jewels in the crown of the Public Health Service, and I certainly agree with that."

The event was videotaped and archived. It can be viewed in its entirety at http://videocast.nih.gov/.

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Summer 2014 Issue: Volume 9 Number 2 Page Inside Front Cover