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A Message from the Director

Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD


Welcome to the National Library of Medicine's 175th anniversary Web site.


Since its creation in 1836, NLM has been a trusted source of reliable, up-to-date information on health and medicine.


Although it houses the world's largest biomedical collection (over 17 million items in more than 150 languages), the Library is about much more than books, journals, artworks and other items, dating back to the 11th century. Every day, via the Internet, NLM delivers trillions of bytes of health data crucial to the lives of millions of people around the globe.


I invite you to click around this site and learn more about the Library, past and present. Let me start you off with a few guideposts, to help you with your personal exploration:


  • Originally part of the United States Army, the National Library of Medicine became a civilian organization in the 1950s and a part of the US National Institutes of Health in the 1960s.
  • The dawn of the computer age, about 50 years ago, dramatically changed not only the methods we use for organizing information, but also changed the complexity of medical information issuing from research centers worldwide, and the speed with which it is produced.
  • As important as this scientific information is, it cannot be used to improve health and prevent disease unless it is made available rapidly to the entire health science community and the public. The widely diverse programs and services of the National Library of Medicine are critical and indispensable in the accomplishment of this task.
  • Systems now being developed by the Library will expand the nation's health information dissemination capabilities dramatically in the years to come. We are also working to preserve the world's biomedical information for future generations.


Birthdays offer us the opportunity to take a look backward, and to reflect on future dreams and goals. I hope that you will agree that the National Library of Medicine, with its past accomplishments, present services and future promise, is an institution in which we all can take pride. Happy exploring!


Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD
National Library of Medicine