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NLM’s 175th Anniversary: Reflections from the Director

U.S. Medicine is a publication serving healthcare professionals working in the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service. It provides a mix of news, medical updates, interviews, reports on special government topics and monthly columns. In the recently published special issue, This Year in Federal Medicine – Outlook 2012, National Library of Medicine Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, took the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate NLM’s 175 years of public service, and to look ahead to 2012 and beyond. He began by reviewing the enormous amount of electronic information generated through resources such as PubMed and MedlinePlus. He also acknowledged the role of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine in promoting access to health information throughout the U.S., and the support and training that NLM provides in the areas of biomedical informatics and health information technology. Dr. Lindberg also addressed the emerging opportunities to link NLM’s health information resources with electronic health records. Even though Dr. Lindberg expects budgetary challenges for NLM in 2012 and beyond, his outlook for the future remains very positive, as he envisions that NLM’s range of services will continue to expand into new areas of biomedical research and health care.

Specific themes mentioned by Dr. Lindberg in his future outlook include the continuing growth of NLM resources, such as PubMed/MEDLINE, PubMed Central, and ClinicalTrials.gov. In addition, several new NLM resources will be released in 2012, including a Genetic Testing Registry and a database of clinical significant human genetic variants. Dr. Lindberg also expects the continued development of NLM resources related to disaster preparedness, and he noted the recent deployment of these resources in events such as the Gulf Oil Spill, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Dr. Lindberg also expects that NLM will continue to utilize and expand the range of social media tools, mobile applications, and mobile versions of its resources to reach new and diverse audiences with high quality health information. He mentioned the impressive array of social media currently used by NLM, including 13 Twitter feeds, notably @medlineplus and the Spanish-language version @medlineplusesp, six Facebook pages and a new YouTube channel. The full text of Dr. Lindberg’s remarks is available on the U.S. Medicine web site.

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