Renae Barger, Executive Director
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) program, formerly called the Regional Medical Library program, was established 50 years ago in the Medical Library Assistance Act of 1965 (Public Law 89-291). The program was designed to assist medical libraries in developing information services and facilitate the dissemination of health information. Originally, eleven regional medical libraries were established, two of which are in our current Middle Atlantic Region.
The New York Academy of Medicine, serving New York and Northern New Jersey became operational in February 1970 and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia serving Delaware, Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey became operational in July 1968.[i] In the early 1980s, largely due to budget constraints, the regions were reduced from eleven to seven, and then expanded to the current eight that exist today as the National Network of Libraries of Medicine program.
Technological advances, the Internet, the changing landscape of healthcare and health sciences libraries and the National Library of Medicine’s response to public demand for biomedical, health and science information have expanded direct outreach, under the NN/LM program, to include not only libraries, but health professionals, public health workers and consumers.
For more information on the history of the Medical Library Assistance Act, see the Circulating Now blog posting by Elizabeth Fee, Chief Historian in Office of the Associate Director for Library Operations at the National Library of Medicine.
[i] Bunting, A. The Nation’s Health Information Network: History of the Regional Medical Library Program, 1965-1985. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1987 Jul; 75(3 Suppl): 1–62. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC280609/pdf/mlab00374-0008.pdf