The NLM and Coordinated Collection Development
The Library of Congress (LC), the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) strive to keep collecting duplication to the minimum necessary to serve their diverse user populations. A dialogue is maintained among these national libraries, and joint collecting statements are developed to define areas of mutual collecting interest. Over the years, cooperative statements on Veterinary Science
, Human Nutrition and Food
, and the AIDS literature
have been developed.
The principal areas of mutual collecting interest between NLM and the Library of Congress are the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of health care and health care delivery systems. NLM assumes responsibility for collecting the research and professional literature of the health sciences; LC primarily collects health-related literature addressed to general audiences, and such works as are deemed necessary to support its Congressional mission. LC also collects works in non-traditional medicine, public health, and other areas of cultural, social, and economic scholarly interest. As the broadest in scope of the national libraries, it assumes responsibility for maintaining a comprehensive collection in the physical and natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. For more information, see the Library of Congress collections policy statement on Medicine
The principal areas of significant overlap between NLM and the National Agricultural Library (NAL) collections are in biotechnology, human nutrition
, laboratory animal science
and veterinary medicine
. NLM's collecting emphasis in these areas centers on topics that comparatively, experimentally, theoretically, or directly affect or advance either human health care or biomedical research. The NAL, on the other hand, focuses collecting effort on those materials that relate experimentally, theoretically, or directly to the production of agricultural commodities, agronomy, consumer nutrition education, food safety, food science, animal husbandry, animal health and animal culture. For more information, see the Collection Development Policy of the National Agricultural Library
The NLM and Other Biomedical Libraries
Beyond the national libraries are important and rich collections in other federal agencies, academic institutions, public libraries, special libraries, museums, archives and research centers. Many of these collections are important in their own right in that they contain unique materials and special collections not held by the national libraries.
The centrality of the NLM collection to the concept of a national collection in biomedicine and the complementary nature of other library collections is well recognized. NLM, in its 1987 Long Range Plan
describes a "distributed library of record" for the biomedical sciences and acknowledges that "even within any narrowly identified scope of biomedical materials, there is more than any single library can acquire. Indeed, among the Nation's biomedical libraries are many collections of unique materials."
The national collection in any discipline is not limited to the holdings of a single national library; nor is it simply the sum of all titles on a given subject. It is a composite of individual titles and important special collections located in many different institutions. NLM seeks to identify existing strengths in other collections and to encourage other libraries to collect unique materials, particularly state and local biomedical literature, manuscripts, and items of strong local interest.