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Key Pioneer in Automating NLM Bibliographic Data, Seymour Taine, Dies

Seymour I. Taine Seymour I. Taine, former Project Director, Index Mechanization Project and former Chief, Bibliographic Services Division, National Library of Medicine died February 21, 2010 in Sonoma, California. He was 90. Mr. Taine first joined the then Army Medical Library (precursor of the National Library of Medicine) as a subject cataloger in 1949 but quickly assumed senior positions as Editor-in-Chief of Current List of Medical Literature, Bibliography of Medical Reviews, Index Medicus and the final editor of the Index-Catalogue.  He obtained his master's in library science from Columbia University and brought an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from New York University and two years of Dental School to his career in medical librarianship.  Mr. Taine left the Library in 1964, for positions at the National Science Foundation and NASA, and served as Director of the NIH Library from 1968-1972. He returned to NLM briefly in 1972 before assuming the position of Chief Librarian at World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Taine's career at the now National Library of Medicine spanned the years in which the Library significantly changed its role by opening up access to the world's biomedical literature through the use of mechanization and computers. He was instrumental in ending the publication of the Index-Catalogue and envisioning the future, working with former NLM Director Frank Bradway Rogers on the creation of MEDLARS (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System).  MEDLARS  laid the foundation for online retrieval of citations to the biomedical literature. Mr. Taine authored or co-authored a number of publications on MEDLARS, including one with Scott Adams, Deputy Director of the National Library of Medicine, published in JAMA, titled, Searching the medical literature. Information retrieval (MEDLARS) at the National Library of Medicine [1964; 188:251-4].   Today, the MEDLINE/PubMed database - a direct descendent of MEDLARS - contains more than 20,000,000 citations and many links to full-text articles in PubMed Central and on publishers' websites, to genomic data, and to many other information resources.   It is searched millions of times every day.

NLM is pleased to note that Mr. Taine's work continues to serve the biomedical community.  The Library has been gradually digitizing and adding to the database citations to literature indexed prior to the advent of MEDLARS.  Citations to all of the articles indexed under Mr. Taine's supervision in the 1950s and early 1960s are readily searchable in PubMed today.