About the National Library of Medicine

The front of the National Library of Medicine building with the Lister Hill Center rising above it in the background and blooming cherry trees in the foreground Founded in 1836, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the world’s largest biomedical library and the producer of electronic information services used by millions the world over. Scientists, health professionals, and the public search the Library’s resources more than two billion times a year to obtain trillions of bytes of data every day. Located in Bethesda, Maryland, NLM is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), under the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

What started as a modest shelf of books in the library of the US Army Surgeon General has grown to a collection of over 23 million books, journals, artworks, audiovisuals, and other materials in over 200 languages. The Library’s scope has expanded, too, to include DNA sequences, clinical trials data, toxicology and environmental health data, consumer health information, and more. NLM also conducts and supports cutting-edge informatics research and development in electronic health records, clinical decision support, information retrieval, advanced imaging, computational biology, telecommunications, and disaster response.

In addition, the Library houses one of the world’s largest collections devoted to the history of medicine. The notable History of Medicine Division (HMD) collects, preserves, and makes available to researchers and the public print and non-print materials that document the history of medicine, health, and disease in all time periods and cultures. HMD also creates exhibitions such as Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness.


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