Reference staff respond to inquiries about the historical collections of the National Library of Medicine from across the U. S. and abroad.
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About Digital Collections
Digital Collections is the National Library of Medicine’s free online resource of biomedical books, still images, and videos. All of the content in Digital Collections is freely available worldwide and, unless otherwise indicated, in the public domain. Digital Collections provides unique access to NLM’s rich resources.
Selected archival collections are also available in digital format, including Profiles in Science, the FDA Notices of Judgement Collection, the Medicine on Screen, and selected speeches and articles by former NLM director Dr. Martin M. Cummings.
The Library’s website also contains a wide variety of guides, thematic sites, exhibitions, and other resources containing digitized materials, which can be explored through the research tools page or searching the NLM website.
Doing Historical Research Onsite at NLM
Doing research in the historical collections of the National Library of Medicine is free and open to the public by appointment during business hours. While considerable research can be done at a distance, due to the rarity, format, condition, and vast scope of the historical collections some items can only be viewed onsite. In the case of manuscript and audiovisual collections, some materials may be stored offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval and viewing. Learn more about our Reading Room.
Privacy and Access to Health Information of Individuals
Some historical collections, particularly recent archival and manuscript collections, at the National Library of Medicine contain sensitive information and require special application prior to public access. Please review information about policy, application requirements, and access in the PDF document Access to Health Information of Individuals or contact the reference staff or the manuscripts curator of the NLM History of Medicine Division to learn more.
This policy was motivated by the implementation in April 2003 of the Privacy Rule [45 CFR 160; 140] of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). While the Library is not a covered entity under HIPAA and therefore not subject to its regulations, the Library nonetheless wishes to establish a policy that reflects the principles of HIPAA’s Privacy Rule.