One NLM

Weaving together all NLM resources to meet the challenges of the future

Close-up of hands working threads on a loom

The strategic planning process is in full swing here. Our RFI is active for a few more weeks and getting a lot of attention from individuals and organizations. We’re seeking stakeholder input through four planning panels that will meet during the spring. Those panels will look at NLM’s role in the following key areas:

  1. Advancing biomedical discovery and translational science / Chair: Arthur Levine, MD, University of Pittsburgh
  2. Advancing data science, open science, and biomedical informatics / Chair: Russ Altman, MD, PhD, Stanford University
  3. Supporting the public’s health: clinical systems, public health systems and services, and personal health / Chair: Suzanne Bakken, PhD, RN, Columbia University
  4. Building collections to support discovery and health in the 21st century / Chair: Patricia Thibodeau, MLS, MBA, Duke University

We have also begun internal functional audits to examine the investment and impact in activities critical to our mission, such as public outreach and curation of the biomedical literature.

I have been encouraging our 1700 men and women to think of the strategic planning process as building a blueprint for “One NLM,” that is, to envision the entire NLM efforts aligned and integrated towards a common vision: the National Library of Medicine, in toto, as we prepare for our third century.

One NLM weaves the work of each division into a common whole.

One NLM emphasizes the integration of all our valuable divisions and services under a single mantle, and acknowledges the interdependency and engagement across our programs. Certainly, each of our stellar divisions–for example, the Lister Hill Center for Biomedical Communications, Library Operations, or Specialized Information Services–have important, well-refined missions that will continue to serve science and society into the future. The moniker of One NLM weaves the work of each division into a common whole. Our strategic plan will set forth the direction for all of the National Library of Medicine, building on and augmenting the particular contributions of each division.

So why do we need One NLM?

Achieving excellence as a resource for discovery and science demands that we efficiently leverage the work of each division toward common goals. Additionally, One NLM encourages sharing the expertise found in any one division across all our efforts. Finally, the idea of One NLM entreats us to bring together all the Library’s resources to meet the key challenges of the future across biomedical knowledge collection, curation, and dissemination–ensuring a talented workforce, enabling every staff member to work Six threads of different colors pass through the eye of a single needleat the top of his or her skill set, creating collections that accelerate discovery and address global health needs, and anticipating (and resolving!) the health information challenges of the future.

Take a minute to let me know how this One NLM theme strikes you, and how you think we can use this unifying concept to ensure the excellence of the NLM into our third century.

Author: Patti Brennan

Director, US National Library of Medicine

4 thoughts on “One NLM”

  1. Thanks for sharing your vision for One NLM, Patti. I support the concept of pointing divisions within NLM towards shared, measurable goals. We all contribute to the mission of “enabling biomedical research, supporting health care and public health” through health information, shared goals shouldn’t be hard to find (and new shared goals shouldn’t be hard to develop). As a Regional Medical Library within the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, our team is connected within health sciences libraries and community health organizations across a ten state region. We continue to focus on outreach and education in partnership with these agencies, and we’re counting on being a valuable part of One NLM. I’m interested in seeing how our contributions tie to shared goals within the greater NLM organization.

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  2. I applaud this concept of “One NLM” but maybe on a more practical reason. Simply having just one Help Desk and just one email to use for help, complaints – and compliments! – would be so much easier for my staff and for the folks we support

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  3. I like it! Simple in concept (if not at all in implementation), and a additional way of focusing the work of the library and explaining it to the world.

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