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Summary of the May 14, 2014, National Library of Medicine 30-Year Symposium Event

by Naomi C. Broering, MLIS, MA, FMLA
Dean of Libraries
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
San Diego, CA

It was a day well spent on “Remembrance of things past,” with a keen eye toward future expectations and plans. The Symposium program: The National Library of Medicine 1984-2014: Voyaging to the Future was co-sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, the Friends of the NLM, and the Medical Library Association (MLA). The purpose was to review past developments in biomedical information services, informatics research, and developments influenced by NLM Long Range Planning. The information shared at the symposium is a valuable initial step toward the next NLM Long Range Plan.

Voyaging to the Future Banner

Ronald Evens, MD, Chair of NLM Board of Regents; Mr. Glen Campbell, Chairman of the Friends of NLM; and Dixie Jones, MLS, President of MLA; greeted the attendees. Eugenie Prime, Librarian and former NLM Board of Regents Chair, introduced the program and then commenced with Donald A. B. Lindberg, MD, Director of NLM, who presented his insights on “Letting users set the course: NLM and Long Range Planning.” He laid the groundwork of NLM’s interest in user involvement for planning to attain essential achievements.

What took place during the day was an exciting and carefully timed program from 8:30am to 5:00pm, featuring key leaders, pertinent luminaries, biomedical librarians, informatics researchers, inventors, and young trainees that have benefitted from NLM support and resources. Many have conducted research and outreach activities to advance the delivery of health care information, internationally and nationwide for the public good. Several speakers addressed personal challenges, unexpected achievements, and visions for the future. Major program topics of advances during the past 30 years included: Genetic Data as a Natural Fit for NLM; Raising the Floor for Biomedical Informatics R & D and Information Service; Health Joins the National Commitment for a High-Speed Communications Network; the NLM Takes Advantage of the Internet Technology Supports Policy, Ensuring Uninterrupted Service; and Look Back – Move Forward. There were 11 panels with over 45 speakers and system developers from known universities, medical centers, hospitals, libraries, associations (journal editors), public health, NIH and NLM agencies. Generally, the speakers have played an eminent role in advanced technologies, networks and information systems used for public access to the latest health care information. The open microphone sessions, lunch break and reception provided attendees with lively opportunities for information exchange. The program was recorded and is available as a series of videos on the NLM web site. A print copy of the agenda and speaker biographies is available at the NN/LM PSR office. Additional highlights of the symposium are featured in a recently published article in NLM in Focus. The entire webcast of almost seven hours is available at the NIH VideoCast website.

The NLM will soon begin a long-range plan for the future and has asked to hear everyone’s thoughts about past and future visions to address. You are encouraged to contribute memories of NLM from the past 30 years, as well as input for the development of NLM’s next Long Range Plan in the NLM Voyaging to the Future blog. Comments will be accepted throughout the year.

[Editor’s note: The June 24th Midday at the Oasis featured Naomi Broering and Gail Yokote speaking about the NLM Symposium and urging librarians to participate by responding to the NN/LM RFI and commenting at the Voyaging to the Future blog.]


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