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United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Milestones in NLM History

Photo of NLM buildings throughout the years

1836 Library of the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army (the present National Library of Medicine) established.

Photo of Dr. John Shaw Billings About 1865 John Shaw Billings, MD, appointed to supervise Surgeon General's Library, which he developed into a national resource of biomedical literature. He served as director until 1895.

1879 First volume of Index Medicus published.

1880 First volume of Index-Catalogue published.

1922 January Library of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army) renamed Army Medical Library.

Photo of Army Medical Library 1952 April Army Medical Library renamed Armed Forces Medical Library.

1956 October 1 Act of Congress moved Armed Forces Medical Library to Public Health Service (PHS) and rechristened it the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Photo of National Library of Medicine1961 December New Library building, #38 (at 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland, on the National Institutes of Health campus), dedicated.

1964 January Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System (MEDLARS) became operational at NLM.

1965 October 22 Medical Library Assistance Act gave NLM responsibility of helping the nation's medical libraries through a grant program, and created the Regional Medical Library Network (now the National Network of Libraries of Medicine).

1967 January 1 Toxicology Information Program established at NLM in response to recommendations of the President's science advisory committee.

1968 NLM became a component of NIH. The Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, NLM's research and development component, was created by Congress.

1971 October MEDLINE ("MEDLARS Online") was initiated to provide online access to a subset of references in the MEDLARS database.

1972 September TOXLINE, an online bibliographic service covering pharmacology and toxicology, became operational.

Photo of Lister Hill Building1980 May 22 NLM's Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications building, #38A, was dedicated. The new structure, adjacent to the Library, houses NLM's research and development components.

1986 February 5 Grateful Med, a PC-based, user-friendly software for accessing MEDLARS, was introduced to the health community.

1988 November 5 National Center for Biotechnology Information was created by Congress as a national resource for molecular biology information.

1993 June National Information Center for Health Services Research and Health Care Technology created by Congress as a national resource for health services research and evidence-based practice guidelines.

1993 October NLM's Internet World Wide Web site ( appeared.

1994 November 25 The Visible Human Male, a large computer dataset of images based on a cadaver, was introduced. The Visible Human Female appeared one year later.

1997 June 26 Web-based access to NLM's MEDLINE became available free of charge.

1998 October MedlinePlus created to provide access to consumer health information.

2000 February 29, an online resource designed to give the public easy access to information about research studies, was launched.

Last reviewed: 17 July 2008
Last updated: 23 October 2006
First published: 10 May 2004
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