Category : Various Text files
Archive   : NLM-INFO.ZIP
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NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Library of Medicine
OCTOBER 1993

National Library of Medicine Outreach

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has a broad mandate to collect and organize
the literature of the health sciences and to provide information
services based on this literature to all American health
professionals. This responsibility is laid out in the National
Library of Medicine Act of 1956.

In 1987, the Congress encouraged the Library to "develop an outreach
program aimed at . . . [the] transfer of the latest scientific
findings to all health professionals...." The 1956 legislation was
explicitly amended to require the NLM to "Publicize the availability
of [its] products and services...."

An advisory panel on outreach was established by the NLM Board of
Regents in 1988. The panel, chaired by Dr. Michael E. DeBakey,
recommended that NLM begin a variety of outreach activities to
promote access to information by individual health professionals. The
advisors recommended that NLM rebuild its partnership with the U.S.
medical library network, redirect its extramural program (resource,
training, and other grants) to emphasize outreach, and investigate
how best to serve the information needs of U.S. health professionals
(with an emphasis on the needs of minority health professionals and
other underserved groups). On the basis of these recommendations, the
Congress appropriated $3.8 million for fiscal year 1990 and $5.5
million for 1991. Although these amounts were less than those
recommended by the panel, nevertheless the Library has begun a
vigorous program of outreach and can point to a number of projects
under way.

Library Network

The first progress reported was as a result of special enhancements, in
1989 and 1990, to NLM's existing contracts with the then seven regional
libraries. Demonstration projects were funded in 12 states to test
various means of increasing awareness of and access to NLM's information
products and services. Some of the projects were carried out directly
by the regional library; others involved subcontracting with another
network library. Work began in eight of these states as a direct result
of new outreach funding.

By 1991, the NLM had made important structural changes in the network,
including changing its designation from Regional Medical Library Network
to National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM_). The geographical
configuration was recast from seven regions to eight; a new region was
created for New England. Support contracts with all regional libraries
were renegotiated and, in May 1991, the NLM announced the signing of
eight 5-year contracts totaling some $33 million. The new contracts
placed great emphasis on the need for expanded outreach activities on
the part of the eight librariesÄfor training users of Grateful Med_ ,
exhibiting at professional meetings, etc., and focusing on underserved
areas in each region.

Another program, developed entirely with new outreach funds, provides
for small competitive contracts awarded directly by NLM to NN/LM Network
Libraries in Area Health Education Centers, academic health centers,
academies, associations, and hospitals, to identify "unaffiliated"
health professionals in underserved areas and to encourage them to gain
access to information through electronic sources such as Grateful Med.
Thirty such contracts were awarded in September 1990, and 15 more a year
later, to network libraries from Hawaii to Maine. NLM assists these
libraries in a variety of ways during the projects, including providing
non-billed demonstration codes, application packets and blocks of online
codes, and tracking system usage as part of the evaluation phase of each
project.

Extramural Support

One of the first steps in this category was to devise two new grant
categories with significant outreach potential. Called Information
Access and Information Systems Grants, they are intended to foster
access to information resources utilizing modern computer and
communications technologies. As examples, among recently awarded
Information Access Grants (aimed at small- and medium-size hospitals)
are those to two groups of health-related libraries in eastern Kentucky
to introduce Grateful Med and provide the concomitant end-user training.
An Information Systems Grant, which is directed towards larger hospitals
and medical centers, was awarded to the University of Miami's medical
center library to assist in developing an AIDS information service for
health professionals in southeast Florida. By the end of 1991, 25
Information Access and 5 Information Systems grants had been awarded by
the Library.

Individual Health Professionals

NLM has increased its efforts to obtain feedback from users and non-
users concerning the adequacy of its products and services. Extensive
studies are being undertaken in several areas of the country, including
South Texas and rural Tennessee, to identify impediments to use and
strategies for improving access among health professionals in
geographically isolated areas. The results of these studies will provide
important insights for the design of new products and services as called
for in the advisory panel's report.

Enhancements to existing products and services are also proceeding.
"Loansome Doc," a link between the Grateful Med user and a network
library, was implemented nationwide in 1991. Using Loansome Doc, a
health professional can now electronically order the full text of any
document identified in a MEDLINE_ search from a network library. The
system is especially helpful to health professionals who practice in
geographically remote areas and who do not have easy access to a medical
library. Already, the Library has heard from health professionals in
Alaska and Hawaii who say that the new Loansome Doc service provides a
level of access to the medical literature they never dreamed possible.

Underserved/Minority Populations

It is clear that within the population of health professionals in
underserved areas, there is a subgroup of health professionals serving
minority populations who have a special set of problems in accessing
information. NLM has geared a variety of new outreach initiatives to
these communities in the belief that direct access to NLM's
databasesÄespecially MEDLINE via Grateful MedÄcan help compensate for
the absence of other health resources. More than 20 outreach projects
have a minority focus. Major examples:

ù NLM is collaborating with Meharry Medical College in Nashville,
Tennessee to develop and put in place an innovative outreach
demonstration project for health care practitioners, including family
practice residents and their preceptors, who are located in remote and
professionally isolated settings. The plan focuses on identifying
impediments to information access and incorporates a variety of
technological and practical changes geared to their removal.

ù In south Texas, the effectiveness of the circuit librarian concept as
a means of improving information access among health professionals has
been evaluated in a joint project with the University of Texas at San
Antonio. Communities in this region are geographically remote, largely
rural, with large Hispanic populations, and distant from the nearest
health sciences library. The circuit librarian makes weekly visits to
the nine participating hospitals in the region and performs MEDLINE
searches for the staff. She also provides for the delivery of needed
documents by return trip or FAX and trains health professionals to
perform their own MEDLINE searches using Grateful Med.

ù A new (1991) initiative in NLM's Toxicology Information Program is
aimed at establishing a mechanism that would strengthen the capacity of
historically black colleges and universities to train medical and other
health professionals in the use of toxicological, environmental, and
occupational information resources developed at NLM. This audience
represents a group that would otherwise not get exposure to these
valuable information sources and also is considered one of the high
priority groups within NLM's outreach efforts. A pilot training program
is being developed at: Drew University School of Medicine, Florida A&M
University, Howard University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School
of Medicine, Texas Southern University, Tuskegee University, University
of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Xavier University.

Publicity

Publicity activities are targeted to a variety of health professionals.
Examples: a campaign to inform dental professionals about the benefits
of Grateful Med/MEDLINE searching in their professional work; a series
of five public service announcements for publication in professional
journals; announcements to the scientific and medical press about new
NLM software, databases, research projects, etc.; and exhibits featuring
Grateful Med and other NLM services at many professional meetings around
the country.

More information about NLM's outreach program is available from the
Public Information Office, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD
20894.


  3 Responses to “Category : Various Text files
Archive   : NLM-INFO.ZIP
Filename : OUTREACH.TXT

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: http://www.os2museum.com/wp/mtswslnk/