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NLM and Wellcome Library Establish Agreement to Make 150 Years of Biomedical Journals Freely Available Online!

Representatives of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the Wellcome Trust recently signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to make thousands of complete back issues of historically-significant biomedical journals freely available online. The terms of the MOU include a donation of £750,000 ($1.2 million) to the NLM that will support coordination of the three-year project to scan original materials from NLM’s collection at the article level, and Wellcome’s work to secure copyright clearances and permissions for electronic deposit from publishers. NLM will undertake conservation of the original material to ensure its preservation for future generations. Key journals charting the development of modern medicine over the last 150 years will be digitized in their entirety and made available on the National Institutes of Health life sciences repository PubMed Central (PMC) and its European counterpart, Europe PMC. The project builds on the Medical Journal Backfiles Digitization Project (2004-2010) and will contribute substantially to the current PMC archive of over 3 million articles from medical journals.

Part of the project will concentrate on mental health journals, supporting a major archive digitization program also being undertaken by the Wellcome Trust. Journals to be digitized include Mental Health, Mental Hygiene, and the Journal of Psychological Medicine and Mental Pathology. Other journals have been selected for their general relevance, such as the Indian Medical Gazette, the British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review and the Transactions of the Epidemiology Society of London. In addition to images and searchable text, NLM will also create article-level citations for PubMed. Digitization is expected to start in late 2014 and to be completed by 2017. Material will be added to PMC and Europe PMC as it is digitized.

The Wellcome Library is one of the world’s leading libraries of medical history, housing 2.5 million items of extraordinary range and diversity, and a growing collection of contemporary biomedical information resources relating to consumer health, popular science, biomedical ethics and the public understanding of science. The Wellcome Library is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

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