NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/NLM/
National Library of Medicine: Major Programs
The Librarys computer-based MEDLARS was established in January 1964 to achieve
rapid bibliographic access to NLMs vast store of biomedical information. The
principal objective of MEDLARS is to provide references to the biomedical literature for
researchers, clinicians, and other health professionals. This is accomplished through:
1) preparation of citations for publication in Index Medicus, a comprehensive,
subject-author index to articles from approximately 3,000 of the worlds biomedical
2) provision of online search services through MEDLINE, TOXLINE, and other databases.
Agreements with foreign institutions provide MEDLARS services to an international
community of health scientists.
In 1971 NLM initiated its MEDLINE service to provide an online bibliographic searching
capability through terminals in libraries at medical schools, hospitals, and research
institutions throughout the country. By typing simple instructions on a personal computer
connected by communications networks to the central computer, a physician or other health
professional can retrieve almost instantaneously references to the most current indexed
journal articles in this area of interest. In addition to MEDLINE, other online databases
deal with toxicology information, cataloging information, audiovisual materials, history
of medicine, cancer literature, hospital and health care literature, medical ethics, and
reproductive biology. In 1997 MEDLINE was made available over the Internet via the World
Wide Web. The URL is www.nlm.nih.gov.
Regional Medical Library Services
To provide more efficient dissemination of biomedical information, NLM has been
developing a network arrangement through which MEDLARS and interlibrary loan services can
be shared efficiently by medical libraries. The network consists of eight Regional Medical
Libraries. Although NLM remains the heart of the network, more and more services are being
provided directly by regional libraries.
Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications
The center explores the use of computer, communication, and audiovisual technologies to
improve the organization, dissemination, and utilization of biomedical information, and is
the focus of the Librarys high performance computing and communications initiatives.
Toxicology Information Program
The general objectives of the program are to create computer-based toxicology and
environmental health data banks from scientific literature and from files of collaborating
industrial, academic, and governmental agencies, and to establish toxicology information
services for scientists.
National Center for Biotechnology Information
The NCBI, created in 1988, builds databases and information analysis/retrieval systems
for genomic information and does research into advanced information-handling methods for
biotechnology and related information.
National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology
The goal of this program is to create information services that make the results of
health services research readily available--including clinical guidelines, technology
assessments, and health care technology.
The extramural grant and contract programs of NLM were originally authorized by the
Medical Library Assistance Act of 1965 (P.L. 89-291) to provide better health information
services through grant support to the Nation's medical libraries. The act, since extended
by Congress, offers assistance for library resources, research in biomedical
communications, biomedical publications, training for research careers in medical
informatics, and Regional Medical Libraries. Research project grants in medical
informatics are awarded under authority of title III, part A, sec. 301, of the PHS act.