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NLM Web Collecting FAQs


The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has a mandate to collect, preserve and make accessible the scholarly biomedical literature as well as resources that illustrate a diversity of philosophical and cultural perspectives. New forms of publication on the Web, such as blogs authored by doctors and patients, illuminate health care thought and practice in the 21st century. In 2011 NLM piloted a project, resulting in the Health and Medicine Blogs collection, to better understand the processes and challenges of collecting born-digital Web content. NLM plans to carefully build capacity in this area to better understand the acquisition, accessibility and preservation of the diverse digital formats found on the Web.


1. Where can I find the Health and Medicine Blogs collection?

The Health and Medicine Blogs collection may be accessed at


2. Who can use the Health and Medicine Blogs collection?

The Health and Medicine Blogs collection is freely available for all to consult.


3. Why is the Library collecting Web content?

The World Wide Web is a rapidly changing environment. Valuable and interesting materials often surface and then can quickly disappear. Even Web archiving organizations like the Internet Archive may not collect Web content with the frequency or to the depth that that the Library desires for its patrons. NLM's Web collecting efforts ensure that the Library is capturing and providing a unique resource for future scholarship.


4. What kinds of Web content is NLM collecting?

NLM Web collecting is guided by the NLM Collection Development Manual and other strategic collecting efforts.

Future projects will likely focus on:

  • a particular topic, genre or event;
  • content that is useful for teaching and research on health care, public health, biomedicine, and the history of medicine; and
  • content unlikely to be captured by more traditional acquisition modes, for example, visual images, social media content, and medical ephemera--collected because they provide a glimpse into the everyday life of a particular time period, or document an historically significant event or trend.


5. How does the Library collect Web content?

The Library has contracted with the Internet Archive to use its Archive-It service to collect Web content.  NLM staff use the service to specify Web site titles, scope, depth, and frequency of collection. Currently the Health and Medicine Blogs collection resides at the Internet Archive but in the future NLM expects to permanently store all Web collections in the NLM Digital Collections repository.

The Library also manages its own Web domain and makes archived content available through its search function, as detailed at


6. Will all Web content be collected indefinitely?

NLM anticipates that a select number of Web collecting projects will continue indefinitely. Most collections will be acquired within a specific timeframe.


7. Why do some Web sites in the collection appear to be incomplete?

Web authors have many different ways of structuring their Web sites. Images, audiovisuals, and other components of a Web page are often pulled from diverse locations. Some parts of a Web site may be password protected or otherwise blocked to Web crawlers. NLM attempts to collect all the components necessary to render a page faithfully, but it's not always possible.


8. What is the copyright status of this collection?

The authors of these Web sites have given permission to the Library to collect, preserve, and display their Web pages. The content remains under copyright; and patrons may use these materials further under the "fair use" provisions of the U.S. copyright law. Also, some Web authors may subscribe to a Creative Commons license or post a similar statement on their Web site, which will specify use.

In all cases, the Web sites of the U.S. federal government are free of copyright--although they may provide access to copyrighted materials.

For further information see


9. Does NLM endorse the Web sites it collects?

As with the other materials in the Library collections, NLM does not endorse the content of any Web sites other than its own.


10. How can I contact NLM about the Web collecting?

Please contact us at