Traditionally, the primary audience for the collection of the National Library of Medicine has consisted of biomedical and public health professionals. This diverse audience includes not only clinical practitioners such as physicians and nurses, but also those engaged in scientific research, scholarly inquiry, policy making, management, education, and communication in areas related to health. NLM has developed its collections with the research needs of this professional audience in mind, and regularly seeks the opinion and expertise of professional, scholarly, and scientific stakeholders in the Library's collection development program planning efforts.
In recent years, NLM has expanded its services to address the general public's increased interest in health information, without compromising the Library's mission to serve as the library of record for biomedicine. Rather than expand the print collection of consumer health materials, the Library's strategy is to provide free and instantaneous Web access to authoritative information and consumer health content. Examples of such Web initiatives include the Library's consumer database, MedlinePlus
, which provides access to full-text health information from NIH and other authoritative sources; NIHSeniorHealth
, developed in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging; and ClinicalTrials.gov
, a registry of federally and privately funded trials of experimental treatments. The Library continually seeks the advice and assistance of consumer health experts in order to improve quick access to health information for the public.