Public Library Initiative/New Consumer Health Site

October 22, 1998

Public Library Initiative/New Consumer Health Site
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 22 OCTOBER 1998 Contact: Robert Mehnert

Contact:Kathy Gardner Cravedi

National Library of Medicine

Public Library Initiative/New Consumer Health Site

New Consumer Health Web Site "MEDLINEplus" Launched

(Bethesda, MD, Thursday, October 22, 1998)-Pointing out that "carefully used, the Internet offers the public a wonderful opportunity for accessing timely and critical health information," Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine-the world's largest medical library-announced that 39 public library organizations with more than 200 locations in nine states (Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and the District of Columbia would take part in a pilot project designed to increase public awareness of and access to health information via the Internet. (See list below.)

The project, Medical Questions? MEDLINE Has Answers, will evaluate the degree to which public libraries and the Internet can help meet the health informational needs of the public. Dr. Lindberg said, "This project will help us to determine the feasibility of mounting these programs in public libraries nationwide."

NLM's partners in the Medical Questions campaign are the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, the Kellogg Foundation, the Medical Library Association, the Public Library Association (a part of the American Library Association), and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine.

"This pilot project was prompted, in part, by growing public enthusiasm and thirst for medical information," noted Dr. Lindberg. "For more than 25 years, MEDLINE has been one way in which health professionals have kept up with what's new in their field. Last year, Vice President Al Gore extended this same ability to all when he conducted the first free MEDLINE search on the Internet. Since then, public interest in MEDLINE has skyrocketed. The number of MEDLINE searches has increased amazingly, from 7 million a year to 120 million. And, about one-third of them are being done by consumers-indicative of the increasing public appetite for health information."

Public Access to MEDLINE Praised by Medical Pioneer Michael E. DeBakey, M.D. (Video Clip)

Internationally renowned heart surgeon, Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., praised the initiative, saying "Good information is the best medicine. Immediate access to current medical research information is as critical as the biopsy and the x-ray have been in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Not only health professionals, but also consumers, should have the most recent medical information at their fingertips."

Lindberg agreed: "Recognizing that informed consumers are better patients but have varied health information needs, NLM has developed MEDLINEplus, an easy-to- understand resource for the public which includes MEDLINE-the world's largest database of peer-reviewed information-as well as links to self-help groups, access to the NIH consumer health information, clearinghouses, health-related organizations, and clinical trials."

In addition to general health topics, MEDLINEplus provides access to extensive information about 20 specific diseases and conditions ("Health Topics"). The site will be continuously expanded and it is expected to include comprehensive and cutting-edge information on hundreds of diseases and conditions in coming months.

MEDLINEplus is available from the NLM's homepage at

  • Birmingham Public Library System, Birmingham, AL
  • District of Columbia Public Library System, Washington, DC
  • Ocmulgee Regional Library System, Eastman, GA
  • Hall County Library System, Gainesville, GA
  • Cherokee Regional Library, LaFayette, GA
  • Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA
  • Tifton-Tift County Public Library, Tifton, GA
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD
  • Dorchester County Public Library, Cambridge, MD
  • Queen Anne's County Free Library, Centerville, MD
  • Kent County Public Library, Chestertown, MD
  • Caroline County Public Library, Denton, MD
  • Talbot County Free Library, Easton, MD
  • Cecil County Public Library, Elkton, MD
  • Somerset County Library System, Princess Anne, MD
  • Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
  • Eastern Shore Regional Library, Salisbury, MD*
  • Wicomico County Free Library, Salisbury, MD
  • Worcester County Library, Snow Hill, MD
  • Wheaton Regional Library, Wheaton, MD
  • Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY
  • The New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Library, New York, NY
  • The New York Public Library, 96th Street Regional Branch, New York, NY
  • Rochester Public Library, Rochester, NY
  • White Plains Public Library, White Plains, NY
  • James V. Brown Library, Williamsport, PA
  • Charleston County Public Library, Charleston, SC
  • Memphis/Shelby County Public Library and Information Center, Memphis, TN
  • Boerne Public Library, Boerne, TX
  • Castroville Public Library, Castroville, TX
  • Alexander Memorial Library, Cotulla, TX
  • Houston Public Library, Houston, TX
  • Jourdanton Community Library, Jourdanton, TX
  • Laredo Public Library, Laredo, TX
  • Dittlinger Memorial Library, New Braunfels, TX
  • Alamo Area Library System, San Antonio, TX*
  • San Antonio Public Library, San Antonio, TX
  • Universal City Public Library, Universal City, TX
  • El Progreso Memorial Library, Uvalde, TX
  • Fairfax County Public Library, Alexandria, VA
  • Arlington County Public Library, Arlington, VA
*Coordinating offices for several public libraries in their geographic area.

Television editor's note: A 28-second video public service announcement (Beta Tape) on the "Medical Questions: MEDLINE Has Answers" campaign featuring Michael E. DeBakey is available upon request.

NIH/National Library of Medicine

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