Contract Summary and Objectives, 2006-2011

The mission of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) is to advance the progress of medicine and improve the public health by providing all health care providers in the United States with equal access to biomedical information and improving the public's access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health. The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Lamar Soutter Library, as the Regional Medical Library for the New England Region (NER) and a member of the NN/LM develops and coordinates comprehensive programs that address this network mission.

The NER Regional Services Plan is built around the guiding principles of decentralization, collaboration, needs assessment, and evaluation. Using data obtained through regional assessments, member input, and staff efforts, and working through a system of subcontracts and partnerships, the NER office develops programs to meet the following national network goals:

  • To develop collaborations with NN/LM libraries to improve access to and sharing of biomedical information resources throughout the nation;
  • To promote awareness of and access to biomedical information resources for health care providers and the public; and
  • To develop, promote, and improve access to electronic health information resources by network member libraries, health care providers, and organizations providing health information to the public.

Specific goals for the NER are:

  1. To work with libraries in the network to establish connections with the health care workforce in rural and inner city locations who still do not have adequate access to health information;
  2. To work with the NN/LM and other organizations to increase public awareness of and access to health information via the Internet, with particular focus on senior citizens, minority populations, and persons of low socioeconomic status;
  3. To strengthen network capabilities through collaborations and by working with national support centers in key areas of need, such as outreach evaluation, training and distance education;
  4. To develop informational programs and services for public libraries, the public health workforce, and community based organizations.
The priorities for the Region during the next five years focus on information access through resource sharing, information management and technology, and outreach to health care providers and health consumers. NER is committed to continuing to provide strong programs and services to serve the health information needs of health care providers, librarians, public health workers, and consumers through the 2006-2011 contract.

Basic Network Programs Objectives 2006-2011

Network Structure refers to the physical infrastructure needed to deliver biomedical information services to libraries and health care providers throughout the region. It also refers to the network of libraries that have been identified to help deliver biomedical information services. The following objectives for 2005-2006 build upon the progress made in the previous years and suggest the future direction for the five-year contract.

Network Structure

Create a strong network of multi-type libraries to ensure access to basic information services to affiliated and unaffiliated health care providers is achieved. NER will promote network membership, particularly in urban and rural areas of the region, so that basic library services are readily available to all health care providers in the region.

Program Objectives: Network Infrastructure
  • Recruit new PALs to network
  • Strengthen PALs through NER programs
  • Establish Resource Libraries and Outreach Libraries
  • Recruit Full and Affiliate Members to provide information services
  • Strengthen Affiliate Members through NER programs
  • Conduct membership drive for records updating and assessment
Program Objectives: Network Management and Document Delivery
  • Recruit new members
  • Promote updates of institutional and serial holdings data
  • Provide DOCLINE training sessions
  • Promote and train members on LinkOut for Libraries
  • Promote funding for EDD Technologies
  • Investigate new methods interlibrary lending
  • Promote EFTS in training sessions, updates


Create a broad-based communication network to keep network members informed about regional activities, to involve members in the communication process, and to generate information exchange in a timely, easy-to-use manner. The RML straddles two far-reaching areas: libraries and health care. Groups from both areas will be actively engaged through relational meetings and mutual participation in events and planning meetings.

Program Objectives: Network Communication

  • Produce quarterly electronic newsletter, the NER’eastah
  • Maintain Listservs for chapter and state health science library associations
  • Review and redesign NER Web Site
  • Produce fact sheets, learning guides, and manuals
  • Participate in NLM teleconferences
  • Develop working relationships with other networks and relevant organizations
  • Identify training resources for NTCC
  • Test videoconferencing and computer conferencing
  • Participate in NN/LM teleconferences
  • Attend RML Directors’ meeting
  • Inform NLM of important developments via reports and other communiqués

Strategic Planning, Assessment, Evaluation

Assessment determines how well the RML is currently meeting the needs of its network members and what other types of resources and services it can provide in the future. The results of a needs assessment can be used to determine who uses NER services and how services can be improved to reflect network member needs. The NER needs assessment strategy employs a variety of approaches and is ongoing throughout the entire contract period. The Regional Advisory Committee provides a measure of local accountability to ensure that are responding to the needs of all constituents. RAC members will play a key role in specific areas of planning, development and assessment. The RAC will represent member libraries and diverse interests in both libraries and health care. Continuous evaluation ensures NER activities are aligned to the mission and goals of the NN/LM.

Program Objectives: RAC, Assessment, Evaluation

  • Recruit and establish Regional Advisory Committee
  • Convene All-RAC meeting for strategic planning and evaluation
  • Convene RAC Subcommittees and Working Groups for assessment and evaluation
  • Offer RAC brief education sessions on conducting program review and evaluation
  • Attend state meetings to provide updates, solicit feedback
  • Conduct sessions that educate subcontractors and members on project evaluation
  • Host network members and review team in conducting onsite review by NLM
  • Gather feedback on information needs and preferences from health care providers
  • Gather feedback at NER venues: training, exhibits, and other NER events
  • Test new features of NLM services

Program Objectives: Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP)

  • Assist in the implementation of EPP
  • Update network members on the EPP
  • Recruit network members for participation in EPP

Program Objectives: Identify historical and unique materials related to health sciences

  • Recruit and convene Historical Collection Task Force as part of RAC
  • Review plan to identify materials with other regions and NLM
  • Implement plan and monitor progress
  • Prepare and offer NER Technology Day workshop on scanning

Program Objectives: Promotion and Identification of NLM Grant Awards and Awardees

  • Promote NLM sponsored funding to network members
  • Share CRISP project records with Member libraries and coordinate support

Other NLM Projects Provide assistance to the NLM and the NNO in the development, implementation, promotion and evaluation of other NLM programs and services as requested.

Outreach Programs Objectives 2006-2011

NER outreach programs include outreach to the health care workforce, consumer health information services, training to support electronic access to health information, exhibits and presentations at meetings, technology and information policy awareness, and library improvement and connections. Each program answers a specific and identified need and responds to the mission and goals set by the NLM for the NN/LM.

Outreach to Health Care Providers

NER’s approach to identifying unaffiliated health providers includes active and passive endeavors. Outreach subcontracts are an example of actively offering services to already identified health professionals through funding provided to member libraries. Member libraries extend their information services to unaffiliated health providers in their geographic ‘catchment’ area, reaching rural and inner-city populations. NER will also actively conduct outreach to provide services to identified priority organizations and populations via training and funding opportunities, enabling them establish their own information services.

NER offers referral services to health providers requesting information services. The Lamar Soutter Library will provide information services to unaffiliated health providers when no other member library can be identified.

Program Objectives: Outreach to Health Care Providers

  • Offer subcontract opportunities to serve unaffiliated health providers
  • Provide information services to community health care organizations that serve priority populations
  • Provide referral services and training to unaffiliated health care providers
  • Assess and provide services to public health workers

Community-Based Organizations

Community-based organizations represent many of the constituencies the RML serves. An organization may include health professionals, health educators and others in the enabling professions that would benefit from an enhanced level of service from the RML. Community-based organizations often represent the public, who are either patients or consumers of health services that can benefit from being introduced to NLM resources as tools to use in their own care management. These organization may have unmet information needs that are specific to health related information at the practice or service-support level (clinical or research information as found in PubMed or Partners Web sites for example) or the consumer level for the patients or clients the organizations serves (e.g. MedlinePlus, NIHSeniorHealth).

Program Objectives: Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)

  • Increase awareness of the network among CBOs
  • Identify CBOs that have unmet needs or that can assist in information outreach
  • Encourage network members to collaborate with CBOs through funding and consultation
  • Encourage CBOs to undertake funded projects through Outreach Projects Consultant


NER sees training and education as a core component of a successful Regional Medical Library program. It is essential that new users, once introduced to the many NLM resources, find confidence to use those resources and see them as important and useful tools. It is also essential that current users continue to develop skills for resources they use often, keep abreast of changes, and be introduced to new NLM resources. Training at member institutions allows NER to support the librarians in the Region, to partner with them, and to help increase the visibility of the library within that organization.

Program Objectives: Training

  • Design and conduct courses
  • Train staff and patrons at member libraries
  • Strengthen information resource skills of librarians
  • Provide updates of NLM resources
  • Provide professional development opportunities to members
  • Offer Winter Series to members
  • Provide training to CBOs and other priority populations
  • Conduct needs assessment of training needs

Consumer Health Information Services

The goal of the NER consumer health program is to raise awareness of MedlinePlus and other National Library of Medicine consumer health resources and provide opportunities for collaboration with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Consumer health outreach will continue to be a three-tiered approach: (1) educational opportunities for public librarians, (2) subcontracts and funding opportunities to network members; (3) exhibiting at health fairs for consumers and health care workers. In addition, NER will foster members’ integration of consumer health services as part of existing services through updates, newsletter articles, and member profiles that highlight best practices in consumer health services.

Program Objectives: Consumer Health

  • Train member libraries and public libraries in consumer health information services
  • Train health related organizations and CBOs on NLM consumer resources
  • Promote consumer health services among member libraries including implementation of MedlinePlus Go Local
  • Exhibit at health fairs and other events to promote NLM resource and NER services


The NER sees exhibiting as a unique opportunity to bring knowledge of NLM resources to large audiences of health care providers, public health workers, librarians, and consumers. Exhibiting is an important tool in promoting and establishing the use of NLM products and services to larger groups of users and potential users. Exhibiting also provides the unique opportunity of being the “face” of NLM to these audiences. National, state, and local mission related meetings will be targeted for exhibiting opportunities; instructional sessions at identified meetings will be proposed.

Program Objectives: Exhibits

  • Identify meetings to submit to NLM exhibit schedule
  • Identify and exhibit at mission-related meetings
  • Promote Express Outreach Awards for exhibiting by network members
  • Submit program proposals for sessions at national and local meetings

Technology Awareness

In addition to assisting members to integrate the changing technologies of NLM Systems, NER will also assist network members in selecting and adapting the technologies that are best suited to a particular library. Libraries must operate within a growing scheme of policies and regulations that govern the library’s ability to offer access to its resources. The library must also facilitate understanding of policies and regulations that affect access to information resources and alter the dynamic of the changing author-publisher-library model. Other facets of this information-providing scheme are the complex sets of rulings, standards, and health information management policies that are dictated by health care institutions in order to comply with various government agencies and accreditation bodies.

Program Objectives: Technology Awareness

  • Offer Technology Awareness award for regional showcases by member libraries
  • Offer NER Information Technology & Policy Awareness Day
  • Develop and conduct information technology and policy awareness training sessions
  • Publish newsletter articles on information technology and policy awareness
  • Monitor current technological and policy developments
  • Design and test systems to help support these operations

Connections and Electronic Document Delivery

NER will develop and implement a plan to encourage high-speed Internet connectivity for network members and health professionals in the region. This will include reviewing the adequacy of the Internet connections of network members and reporting the results to the region and to NLM. NER will assist under-connected member libraries in upgrading their connections. NER will also identify inner-city and rural health care organizations that are not connected to the Internet or that are under-connected and provide assistance in establishing or upgrading their connectivity to the Internet.

Program Objectives: Connections

  • Assess connectivity status of network members
  • Offer Connectivity Awards to network members and community-based organizations
  • Provide assistance through Connectivity Awards and training

Library Improvement

The hardship caused by the health care organization’s reduction in hospital library resources is compounded by the fact that libraries are resource-intensive operations. The library’s need for updated desktop computers and increased need for bandwidth also consumes significant portions of the institution’s resources. Given the environment described above, library improvement should be seen as a continuous process with different stages throughout the library’s development. NER will develop and implement different programs and services that establish and reinforce the region’s medical libraries as continuously improving units within their health care institution.

Program Objectives: Library Improvement

  • Identify libraries that need assistance in improving access to NLM resources
  • Offer support to hospital libraries via Library Improvement/Electronic Document Delivery Awards.
  • Provide onsite and follow-up assistance to libraries and hospital staff needing assistance in improving information access
  • Develop and provide library improvement training and workshops for member libraries