Charting a Course for the 21st Century – NLM's Long Range Plan 2006-2016
Despite some residual "last mile" problems, in 2025, the "digital divide", i.e., persistent uneven access to high-speed computers and telecommunications, will have virtually disappeared in the U.S. However, disruptions in telecommunications during emergencies and disasters will continue to be problematic, due to ever increasing societal reliance on digital information. Even though technical telecommunications barriers will be greatly diminished, a sizeable fraction of the population will continue to lack the education and training necessary for the most effective use of information technology.
Knowledgeable and sympathetic human beings will still be essential to helping underserved populations make effective use of information and decision support resources that are available and relevant to them. The NLM and the National Network of Medical Libraries will provide services to help minority and other underserved populations, and the health professionals who serve them, make the most effective use of information and decision support resources that hold the promise of promoting healthy behaviors, preventing costly and debilitating illness, and improving health outcomes when disease occurs.
Services essential to preserving the community’s health, e.g., disease surveillance, environmental monitoring, food and water inspection, emergency response, will continue to be provided through many different organizations and by widely dispersed people with different types and levels of training and education. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine will continue to be essential to NLM’s ability to reach both underserved populations and the varied workforce attempting to serve them.