Skip Navigation Bar

Transcript: NLM Visitors Video

[Narrator:]  Every day millions of people around the world rely on the National Library of Medicine.

[Francis Collins, MD, PhD, Director of NIH:]  NLM is the place to go. I go there myself many times a day.

[Narrator:]  What began as a shelf of books in the Office of the Army Surgeon General in 1836, is today the world's largest medical library and part of the National Institutes of Health, the nation's medical research agency. A long-standing leader in the dissemination of medical information, using the internet and its emerging platforms, the Library plays a key role in scientific discovery and health by collecting, organizing, and preserving biomedical knowledge from around the world and by making it accessible, often in innovative ways.

[Francis Collins, MD, PhD, Director of NIH:]  The National Library of Medicine is the window that the public and the scientific community use to look at all of the wonderful proliferation of information that's been pouring out of laboratories, and is doing so at an accelerating pace.

[Patricia Brennan, PhD, Director of NLM:]  When we think about library patrons, we think about people walking into a building. Over the last 25 years that certainly has changed. So people may be sitting at a desk or in their living room with their laptop or their tablet and interacting with health information and the resources of the National Library of Medicine.

[Narrator:]  NLM produces the most frequently consulted medical/scientific database in the world. PubMed is a free and invaluable tool for searching and finding biomedical literature. Its allied database, PubMed Central, provides full-text articles for free.

[Daniel Sands, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA:]  The National Library of Medicine has obviously made the world medical literature available to everybody, every citizen. Everybody can have access to PubMed. Everybody can search the world's medical literature. That's astounding.

[Jack Andraka, Winner 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair:]  I breathed PubMed Central. I mean I would just go up and down through the articles looking for the free versions of them because I mean I'm a high school student.

[Narrator:]  Maryland's teenaged scientist, Jack Andraka, used PubMed Central to discover a revolutionary test for early detection of pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancer. NLM's National Center for Biotechnology Information creates systems for storing, analyzing, and retrieving the massive amount of information encoded in our genome – our hereditary material. NLM databases of DNA and protein sequences help scientists, working to understand disease at the molecular level, to ultimately develop new treatments and cures. The Library delivers this data and the tools to analyze it to the desktops of researchers worldwide.

[Phillip Bourne, PhD, Associate Director for Data Science, NIH:]  If you talk to graduate students in many places, or post-docs, NLM and NCBI is in fact NIH. That's all they know about NIH. They see it in front of the screen every day.

[Francis Collins, MD, PhD, Director of NIH:]  It's not enough to fund research, you've got to be sure the research is available to everyone. NLM has been doing that for a long time.

[Sanjay Gupta, MD, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent:]  Oftentimes, it's the National Library of Medicine that I turn to and not just as a reporter, but also as a doctor. ClinicalTrials.gov is a place that I often send my patients.

[Narrator:]  The National Library of Medicine maintains ClinicalTrials.gov, the world's largest source of information about human research studies. With a simple internet search, people can learn about clinical trials that are recruiting patients and healthy volunteers to participate in studies of new ways to prevent, treat, or detect disease. ClinicalTrials.gov also provides the results of trials, sometimes before they appear in the published literature.

[Louis Sullivan, MD, Former Secretary of HHS:]  Certainly, NLM has lead this country in supplying free, reliable, heath information to the American public and to the world.

[Narrator:]  The National Library of Medicine uses the latest technologies and new media to make information available when, where, and how you need it. One example is MedlinePlus, an NLM resource with information on hundreds of health conditions. It's designed to be displayed on all devices, from desktop computers to smartphones. Its information is also shared through a Twitter feed and a magazine – NIH MedlinePlus.

[Woman:]  Hi, Miss Marilynn, how you doing?

[Marilynn:]  Just fine.

[Woman:]  Sorry I'm late.

[Marilynn:]  That's okay.

[Woman:]  We went to Myrtle Beach and now I'm back.

[Narrator:]  At the Ma Flo Hair Salon in rural Georgetown County, South Carolina, owner Marilynn Lance-Robb, who also works at a local library, provides on-line access to the NLM's MedlinePlus web-site.

[Marilynn:]  And through MedlinePlus we could show them how to get healthy, how to exercise – your diet…

 [Narrator:]  By turning her hair salon into a 'resource center,' Robb brings quality health information, directly from the National Library of Medicine, to the public.

 [Patricia Brennan, PhD, Director, NLM:]  Our history of delivering information at a point of need now has a whole new challenge, because the point of need is not a singular point but it might be a lifespan – what information needs to be presented to which person at what time.

 [Narrator:]  NLM's research and development produced the Visible Human Project, which provides a unique understanding of the human body. People worldwide can use the images free of charge to develop new products and services. Anouk Stein, a radiologist and computer programmer, used the Visible Human data and while working at her kitchen table, created an interactive app to help students learn anatomy.

 [Anouk Stein, MD, radiologist and computer programmer:]  The images are exquisite. I mean unbelievable that this is available for free – just the most beautiful, beautiful detail.

 [Atul Butte, MD, PhD, researcher:]  The National Library of Medicine is an incredible creation. We're really lucky that we have something like that in the United States.

 [Narrator:]  The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, anchored by eight regional medical libraries, ensures that everyone in the US has equal access to health information. These partner libraries connect people with NLM resources and support community projects.

 [Rita Smith, MLS Mercer University Medical Library:]  The National Library of Medicine has just been invaluable to our efforts, just the many resources that NLM offers that we could not do our jobs without.

 [Elaine Russo Martin, MSLS, DAILY ACTIVITIES, Director of Lamar Souter Library, University of MA:]  No longer do people have to come into the library to get  information, and librarians are moving out of the library to provide direct access to that information to the users they serve. And it's through the leadership of the National Library of Medicine that we've been able to do this.

 [Narrator:]  In times of disaster, emergency, or national and international health crises, accessing and managing health information is vital, and NLM is developing tools and technologies that address disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. The Library contributes to the development of electronic health records by providing the vocabularies to help patient information flow accurately and securely between healthcare providers. Those vocabularies even helped IBM train its Watson computer.

 [James Cimino, MD:] The NLM, I think stands above all the other institutes of NIH in understanding that information is really a research endeavor and has made a priority to train informatics researchers.

 [Narrator:]  NLM grant recipient Dr. John Brownstein developed HealthMap, which shows in real-time outbreaks of infectious diseases around the world.

 [John Brownstein, PhD, Harvard Medical School:]  The National Library of Medicine actually funded us around HealthMap to develop it into a true public resource, a resource that now millions of people are using on a daily basis to understand important health topics in their community and in the world at large.

 [Narrator:]  Given the important lessons to be learned from the past, NLM maintains an incomparable collection of books, journals, manuscripts, audiotapes, videotapes, and artwork – dating back to the 11th century. And through exhibitions, the Library enhances people's understanding of themselves and their communities, exploring the social and cultural history of medicine.

 [Patricia Brennan, PhD, Director, NLM:]  I would say that health is not a spectator sport, that there are ways you can train yourself to become more healthful in the way you live. And, finally and most importantly, the recognition that our tax dollars are funding this resource. It's there and they're already paying for it, so we should be making use of it. 

Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine https://www.nlm.nih.gov has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice and is a leader in information innovation. NLM is the world's largest medical library, and millions of scientists, health professionals and the public around the world use NLM services every day.

###