Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) Organizational Handbook
- Summary of Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and NNLM Background
- Changes to NNLM
- NNLM Technical Assistance Webinar [PPT, 15.7 MB ]
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the 2021-2026 cycle of NNLM invites cooperative agreement (UG4) applications for Regional Medical Libraries (RMLs) as the integral component of the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM or Network). The NNLM is a key partner in helping NLM achieve the vision outlined in the NLM Strategic Plan 2017-2027 “to reach more people in more ways through enhanced dissemination and engagement pathways.” The mission of the NNLM is to provide U.S. researchers, health professionals, public health workforce, educators, and the public with equal access to biomedical and health information resources and data. Seven health sciences libraries will function as the RML for their respective region to accomplish these goals.
NNLM’s main goals are to work through libraries and other members to support a highly trained workforce for biomedical and health information resources and data, improve health literacy, and increase health equity through information. Through meaningful engagement strategies the NNLM increases health information access and use for all audiences, including underrepresented populations.
RMLs will engage meaningfully with current and future audiences to increase information access, with priority for Underrepresented Populations, as determined by: those experiencing health disparities; race and ethnicity; biological sex, gender identity or expression, and sexual orientation; cognitive and physical abilities; religious background or identification; socio-economic status (past and current); education level, health literacy, and linguistic needs; geographic location including underrepresented populations from medically underserved areas ; and other factors or demographics that create unequal access to the highest level of health (please refer to the special supplement by the American Journal of Public Health about health disparities research).
The NNLM program also supports NLM’s goal to enhance its research, development, training, and information services to make more biomedical data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR), to invent the tools and services to turn data and information into knowledge and insight, and to develop the workforce for this work.
RMLs are regional hubs of the NNLM that provide training, funding, and engagement opportunities for member libraries and other organizations to carry out regional and national programs. Regionally, RMLs assess and interpret the needs of current and potential audiences to expand the reach and impact of the NLM. Nationally, the RMLs will ensure continuity of quality service for core programs of the NNLM, and cooperatively design, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to serving the biomedical and health information needs of researchers, health professionals, public health workforce, educators, and the public.
RMLs and NNLM members act as trusted ambassadors between NLM and the communities they serve. RMLs working with and through partner/resource libraries, members, and other organizations with shared visions to carry out regional and national programs contributing to sustainability of partnerships and program activities.
The shared functions of all RMLs are to:
- Develop approaches to promote awareness of, improve access to, and enable use of NLM’s authoritative resources and data;
- Develop and support a diverse workforce to access biomedical and health information resources and data, and to support data-driven research;
- Engage authentically with current and future audiences to increase information access, with priority focus on underrepresented populations;
- Provide community-driven innovative approaches and interventions for biomedical and health information access and use;
- Contribute substantially to the development of vision, strategies, standards, oversight, and activities for NNLM’s national program in collaboration with other RMLs, NNLM Offices and Centers, and NLM;
- Assess and interpret the biomedical and health information needs of NNLM members within the region and provide solutions within scope of the NNLM program;
- Partner and collaborate with Network members and other organizations to accomplish national and regional program goals; and
- Conduct formative and summative evaluation of the effectiveness, impact, and value of RML program.
The FOA was announced on June 2, 2020 and is available here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-LM-20-001.html
Background on 2021-2026 Changes to the NNLM
Beginning with the 2021-2026 cycle, NLM has made changes and refinements to the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) program:
The name is changed from ‘National Network of Libraries of Medicine’ to ‘Network of the National Library of Medicine.’ The acronym NNLM does not change. The name change is more focused and inclusive, recognizing that not all NNLM members are libraries of medicine. The name change became effective with the publishing of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in June 2020.
While Network’s mission remains the same, goals for the NNLM are clarified and expanded to include ‘increase health equity through information.’ Together, they now read: The mission of the NNLM is to advance the progress of medicine and improve the public's health by providing U.S. researchers, health professionals, public health workforce, educators, and the public with equal access to biomedical and health information resources and data. The NNLM’s main goals are to work through libraries and other members to support a highly trained workforce for biomedical and health information resources and data, improve health literacy, and increase health equity through information.
Goal 2 of NLM’s 2017-2021 strategic plan is to reach more people in more ways through enhanced dissemination and engagement. Applying this focus to the Network and efforts to continually engage underserved and underrepresented populations with NLM resources and data communities, the 2021-2026 NNLM region structure balances regions and RML workloads. The reorganization reconfigures regions and reduces disparities between regions in two ways: (1) total population served and (2) number of member libraries and organizations supported. The results are that the number of regions is reduced from 8 to 7 and that the current region names are replaced with region numbers. They are ordered clockwise, starting with the region including NIH headquarters in Bethesda, MD.
The NNLM design remains the same with this FOA, comprising grantee staff operating Regional Medical Libraries (RMLs), national Offices, and national Centers. RMLs remain integral component of NNLM that: (1) serve as regional hubs for Network members; (2) assess, interpret, and reflect all community information needs in the region; (3) develop, foster, and maintain relationships between and among NNLM and members in the region; and (4) reach all communities in the U.S.
For 2021-2026, the current NNLM Evaluation Office is transformed into a new, separate NNLM Evaluation Center (NEC) brings more expertise, innovation, and focus to analyzing and reporting the effectiveness, value, and impact of the Network’s regional and national programs and activities. The change also allows NNLM to strengthen its evaluation program and encourage innovation.
The number of RMLs will be reduced from eight (8) to seven (7). The seven regions are below:
Region 1: Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia
Region 2: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Region 3: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 4: Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 5: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States in the Pacific
Region 6: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 7: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont
- 2021-2026 Specific Aims — The new NEC is intended to bring both established and innovative evaluation frameworks and evidence-based evaluation tools and practices to NNLM. The NEC will collaborate with RML, Office, and Center (ROC) staff to develop strategies and standardized approaches for evaluating outreach and education services; with the NNLM Training Office (NTO) to provide continuing education opportunities for NLM, RMLs and network members; and with the NLM Office of Engagement and Training (OET) to ensure NNLM evaluation strategies are aligned with the NLM Strategic plan. The NEC also will develop and implement approaches for automated data flow and integration across reporting tools as well as maintain and improve the NNLM data dashboard. For additional details regarding the 2021-2026 goals for the NEC see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-LM-20-002.html.
- Related Current Activities/Accomplishments — The current National Evaluation Office (NEO) is working on the following initiatives: Development of evaluation pathways that intersect K-12 Health, Rural Health, Underserved, and LGBTQ evaluation; ensure alignment of evaluation reports and tools across NNLM and the NNLM All of Us Research Program; Creation of an RFP rubric for NNLM RMLs; and organizing data, documents and files in preparation for transition to the NEC. To learn more about the current NEO, visit https://nnlm.gov/neo.
The National DOCLINE Coordination Office will be replaced by the DOCLINE Coordination Committee (DCC) to provide overall resource sharing strategies and solutions for the NNLM and serves as a central feedback mechanism for NLM on the DOCLINE user experience. The DCC is a committee of the NNLM Steering Committee (see "Infrastructure and Operations" section to learn about the NNLM Steering Committee). This new committee will have membership from each RML, the National Training Office, the National Pubic Health Coordination Office, the OET, and NLM Collection Access Services. The DCC will: develop annual goals; support national and regional resource-sharing networks, including potential new DOCLINE members; collect user feedback; coordinate with NPHCO on providing services and information to health professionals; plan and develop solutions for providing services to unaffiliated health professionals; coordinate with NTO on resource sharing training and webinars, including the DOCLINE system; and evaluate the effectiveness of the NNLM Resource Sharing Program.