Bringing the World of Medical Information to Your Neighborhood
By Angela B. Ruffin, Ph.D.,
Head, NN/LM National Network Office
The world's largest medical library is the National Library of Medicine, located on the 300-acre campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Unfortunately, not all people can visit Maryland to use NLM's vast array of books, journals and other resources. But thanks to the Internet, people around the country can access an amazing amount of reliable health information from home, work or school, free of charge, 24/7. And the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) exists to help Americans do just that.
NN/LM is a nationwide partnership of health sciences libraries, information centers, public libraries and community-based resource centers. Administered by the National Library of Medicine, the Network consists of eight Regional Medical Libraries, 160 Resource Libraries and over 5,000 members. Together, Network libraries strive to improve the health of all American citizens.
"The World Wide Web lets us share reliable health information with people around the world through MedlinePlus," says NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg. "But we have another important 'web' that is not as well known, and that's the National Network. The Network's partner libraries give NLM a vast reach, from cities to rural areas and even across oceans to our users in Alaska, Hawaii and the territories. The members help spread the word that good information is available, and there's a ripple effect as that word goes out to consumers and health professionals nationwide."
NN/LM Network members work together to make sure that the latest and most accurate biomedical information is available to both health professionals and the public.
The Regional Medical Libraries (see map) coordinate a variety of services for the Network's eight geographic regions. Working cooperatively with the members of the Network as well as community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, tribal colleges, public health agencies and other institutions, they promote good health information and the many online resources of the National Library of Medicine, such as MedlinePlus. Free RML-sponsored MedlinePlus workshops and presentations introduce health professionals and the public to a wealth of reliable and timely biomedical information in English and Spanish.
For further information on the National Network of Libraries of Medicine call 1-800-338-7657, which will connect you to your Regional Medical Library, or visit the NN/LM Web site at http://nnlm.gov.