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Clifford Lynch Presentation: Impressions from a Network Member

by Naomi C. Broering, MLS, MA, AHIP
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego, CA

I highly recommend viewing this inspiring and provocative presentation about the future role of medical libraries. In addition to the summary submitted by Alan Carr, NN/LM PSR, I wish to note my personal observations.

Life science is highly data intensive; it includes biology, sequencing systems, environmental, medical sciences, scientific discoveries, clinical trials and pharmaceuticals, and more. “The sky’s the limit.” Predictions are that there will be more convergence as well as more divergence among the disciplines. The issues are different depending on fundamental bases of knowledge and subject matter.

Publishers, libraries, and scientists cannot keep up with current articles in journals at the current rate of approximately one published article per minute. So, the vision of computations and interactive systems provides great hope for the future. Even today, we have scholars communicating results via e-mail and/or social networks. This may be an early mode of interactive article publishing. Of importance is the role of human genome sequencing and outcomes leading to personalized medicine, which may lead to reduced health care costs, which is a promising development. With the proliferation of knowledge, data sets and new scientific discoveries of stored information will be unimaginably massive and too profound for present modes of access. Computations by machines will provide diagnostic and outcomes knowledge for the scientific community.

Regarding access and use of personal health information records, global issues differ among nations. Countries pool and use information differently, and there are political factors involved as well. The element of trust with medical records is an issue in the US, but not as great in other countries, such as the UK or socialist nations. What nations and what institutions are trusted to use the records? What will happen with records of dead people? Food for thought! Dealing with massive medical information knowledgebases is where libraries rank highly on the trustworthiness list. Translating information for the public is an essential matter. What about My NCBI as a mechanism of knowledge storage?

For the future we can envision data intensive scholarship. Lynch sees libraries, especially the NLM, filling a critical role with data citations, editorial policy regarding data, and access. Listen to this lecture. It is astonishing!

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