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Abstract -- NIH/NLM World Wide Web Database Projects Users Track
U3: Public Health and Medicine

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NIH/NLM World Wide Web Database Projects

Rodgers, R. P. C. ( rodgers@nlm.nih.gov)


The U.S. National Library of Medicine maintains the world's largest collection dealing with a single scientific or professional topic. In addition to caring for over 4.5 million holdings (including books, journal, reports, manuscripts and audio-visual items), the NLM offers extensive online information services dealing with clinical care, toxicology and environmental health, and basic biomedical research. This is an overview of Internet- and World-Wide Web-based activities currently underway at NLM: these activities are being undertaken by a large number of individuals and groups within the the library's two research components (the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, or NCBI) as well as various specialized information services.

These activities build upon the library's well-established online services. Chief among these is MEDLINE, one of the first and still one of the most widely consulted bibliographic databases. An outgrowth in the early 1960s of the NLM's printed document, Index Medicus, MEDLINE employs a controlled vocabulary known as Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) to index the contents of over 3,600 journals from the biomedical literature. MEDLINE and various sister databases can be accessed through direct telephonic connection to ELHILL, a mainframe-based facility at NLM. More commonly in recent years, these resources have been accessed via telephone (or, more recently, Internet) via software known as Grateful Med, which exists in versions for the Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. A second key component underlying NLM's Internet activities is the the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Project. Undertaken in the 1980s, this continuing research and development initiative comprises four linked knowledge sources:

The World-Wide Web (WWW) plays a prominent role in current NLM innovations. Several Web-based systems will be discussed and demonstrated: World-Wide Web technology provides a number of advantages to NLM in its role an information provider: Web technology also poses interesting challenges: