Behind the Scenes at the World's Medical Library: The National Library of Medicine
Washington, DC: Monuments, Memorials, and Medicine
When traveling to the Washington, DC, area for professional or personal reasons, most visitors focus on the city's famous monuments and memorials, but physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have another attraction to see. The US National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is open for tours. Located only eight stops from the Metro Center on the Red Line, the NLM is easily accessible to visitors to the nation's capital.
Thousands of people tour the NLM every year. In fiscal year 2017, these guests represented 82 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The tours include medical art, rare medical books, and an overview of the Library's history.
More Than Meets the Eye
The 1997 announcement that the world's largest medical literature database would be available to everyone with a computer and internet connection, worldwide, free of charge, was a game changer for healthcare professionals. Those who remember hefting Index Medicus volumes around the library can almost pinpoint the day that searching the medical literature changed forever
PubMed and its corresponding literature resources, MEDLINE, and PubMed Central are only a few of the databases under the umbrella of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) of the NIH. Journals must be specially selected to be indexed in MEDLINE. PubMed and PubMed Central (which provides free full-text articles) are the interfaces through which users access the MEDLINE database.
NCBI handles a phenomenal volume of traffic. On an average day, 4.2 million Web users view 21 million pages, and at peak times, the site handles more than 7000 hits per second. Every day, about 2.5 million PubMed users conduct 3 million searches and view 9 million pages
Did you know? The NLM also maintains ClinicalTrials.gov, the world's largest repository for information about human research studies. With a simple search, people can learn about trials that are recruiting patients and healthy volunteers to participate in clinical studies.
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