This category includes materials designed for direct use by consumers, as well as those intended to be used by health professionals to educate patients.
Dissemination of consumer education information is an important strategy in the practice of public health and preventive medicine. NLM has taken an increasingly prominent role in the dissemination of consumer health information by the creation of online resources such as MedlinePlus
. MedlinePlus is designed to provide consumers with immediate access to authoritative information that helps them to research health-related questions and increase their understanding of health topics.
NLM selectively acquires consumer health publications for its collection of print and audiovisual publications, with emphasis on works likely to be of historical value, i.e., those that influence perceptions about health or health behaviors, chronicle changing viewpoints about health and illness, or provide perspectives not found in conventional medical literature. NLM also selectively acquires instructional materials produced for use by health providers in patient care, with emphasis on authoritative U.S. materials. The Library indexes selected consumer health periodicals for its data products such as PubMed
The NLM collecting mission complements that of the Library of Congress, which supports public and state library services for consumers (such as the management of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
), and accordingly assumes principal responsibility for the collection, cataloging and archiving of consumer health publications for the nation.