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NLM and Medical Heritage Library to Expand Public Access to Collections

June 18, 2019

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with the Medical Heritage Library (MHL) to promote free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine and the human health sciences.

Under the agreement, the MHL will include digitized NLM historical materials and associated metadata in its free and open archive of historical resources. Additionally, staff of the organizations will exchange expertise to ensure and share accurate metadata for the materials, data-driven analyses of usage of the materials, as well as transparent and open engagement efforts with researchers who could benefit from knowing about the free availability of the materials.

MHL—a nonprofit organization—is a digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries promoting free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine.   Through the partnership with the MHL, the NLM strengthens its connections to U.S. and international peer institutions and their communities, including Harvard University, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the New York Academy of Medicine, the Wellcome Library in London and the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de Santé in Paris.

NLM holds collections spanning ten centuries of global medical history. "This agreement supports the shared goals of NLM and MHL to open these collections to new audiences and provide access that supports a variety of current and developing research methods,” said Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, Chief of the NLM History of Medicine Division.

“This agreement with the NLM strengthens the MHL’s core mission, as a collaborative digitization and discovery organization committed to providing open access resources in the history of healthcare and the health sciences,” said Melissa Grafe, PhD, President of the Medical Heritage Library and Head of the Medical Historical Library at Yale. “Since 2010, the NLM’s world-renowned collections have been—and with this memorandum of understanding will continue to be—a core part of the nearly 300,000 freely and openly available digitized items in the Medical Heritage Library, used in research and education throughout the world.”


The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is a leader in research in biomedical informatics and data science and the world’s largest biomedical library. NLM conducts and supports research in methods for recording, storing, retrieving, preserving, and communicating health information. NLM creates resources and tools that are used billions of times each year by millions of people to access and analyze molecular biology, biotechnology, toxicology, environmental health, and health services information. Additional information is available at

Last Reviewed: June 18, 2019