Your National Library of Medicine, 1968
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THE REPORTER VOL. 6, NO. 2 MEDICAL SERVICE OF D.C WASHINGTON, D.C. FEBRUARY 1968 Your National Library Of Medicine In an age of rapid scientific advance and social change, the physician is increasingly confronted with the multi-faceted nature of medical practice. Change in these two important areas means an expanding store of medical information. Unfortunately, expanding information is not synonymous with expanding knowledge. For, as the published literature increases at an exponential rate, the problem of communicating this information to the scientific community becomes ever more complex and difficult. The doctor's predicament: how to take advantage of this abundance of information ... how to find in this growing mass of literature the information pertinent to his and his patients' needs. Boswell perhaps anticipated the problem two centuries ago. In his Life of Doctor Samuel Johnson, he said Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. Today's physician must depend more and more on the second kind of knowledge - knowledge of where to find the information he needs. Physicians in the Washington area have ready access to the greatest collection of biomedical literature in the world at the U.S. Public Health Service's National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland. The Library's books, journals, and audiovisual material may be consulted in the NLM Reading Rooms, and most of the collection is available on loan through any library. Supplementing these traditional library services is the Library's innovative computer-based MEDLARS (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System) which is enabling us to move rapidly from our essentially passive role as a depository library to that of a dynamic information center. For example, the citations to the world's significant journal literature stored in MEDLARS is retrieved periodically for the compilation of the monthly Index Medicus, the Bibliography of Medical Reviews, and a growing number of other recurring bibliographies. A list of journal article references on a specific biomedical subject can also be obtained through MEDLARS as a "demand search." The rapidity of scientific advance, in his own field as well as in related fields, means that the physician cannot simply attain a level of competence and expect this to carry him through a lifetime of medical practice. In addition, political, social, and economic currents, which are altering society, also affect the medical practice and make the physician's task of continuing education more formidable. The National Library of Medicine is your resource. It should be thought of as the institution to which you may turn for assistance in retrieving information from the world's published biomedical literature, to the advantage of both you and your patients. MARTIN M. CUMMINGS, M.D. Director, NLM You will find the Reporter a valuable source of reference.