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Permanent Public Access to NLM Online Files

In May 2000, the National Library of Medicine and the U.S. Government Printing Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure the permanent accessibility of major NLM electronic publications that also are distributed through the GPO Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in printed form.

The FDLP has made government publications available to the public for more than 100 years by depositing printed copies in more than 1300 Congressionally designated libraries located throughout the country. Since 1963, libraries with regional depository status have been obligated to retain those copies permanently. This requirement has contributed to space problems in some libraries--especially in those that have accumulated long runs of large publications such as NLM's Cumulated Index Medicus. A parallel development has been growing recognition by NLM and GPO of the need to find ways to ensure permanent access to the increasing number of government publications that are available in electronic form.

The recent discussions by NLM and GPO have resulted in an agreement that NLM will guarantee permanent public access to several online files that contain information also published in print form. GPO has agreed that most depository libraries no longer will be required to retain paper copies. The Memorandum of Understanding spells out the specific responsibilities accepted by NLM and GPO to ensure the integrity and long term availability of NLM's online publications. The titles currently covered by the agreement include:

  • Cumulated Index Medicus (1966 - 2000)
  • Index Medicus (1960 - 2004)
    • (Note: Earlier years will be included as NLM's OLDMEDLINE project progresses.)
  • Medical Subject Headings (1966 - present)
  • NLM Catalog (1955-1965)
  • NLM Catalog. Supplement [microform] (1985-1993)
  • National Library of Medicine Audiovisuals Catalog (1978-1993)
  • National Library of Medicine AVLINE Catalog (1975-1976)
  • National Library of Medicine Current Catalog (1966-1993)

The content of these publications are available in NLM's online files MEDLINE, Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), and LocatorPlus. Depository Libraries that are planning to withdraw printed copies must follow regular GPO procedures. Questions should be directed to GPO's Federal Depository Library Program staff.