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medlinein the UK: pioneering the past, present and future

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This article provides a brief history of the development of themedlinedatabase and its huge impact within the UK, from its inception to the present time. The origins ofmedlinecan be traced back to a collection of books in the US Surgeon General's Office during the American Civil War and John Shaw Billings’ decision, during 1867, to make this Library as complete as possible. From these beginnings, Index Medicus was developed in the early years of the 20th century, and electronic versions of the database began with the computerized on-demand search service MEDLARS in 1964 and then via CD-ROM and Internet Grateful Med to the web-based and free-to-all service, PubMed, in 1997. The response to PubMed was immediate and startling with usage increasing from 7┬ámillion searches per annum in 1996 to 400┬ámillion searches per annum in 2001 and the service continues to improve.medlineproviders are now offering mapping of natural language queries to the sophisticated indexing vocabulary (Medical Subject Headings, MeSH) and the provision of specific filters for different types of publication to improve searching efficiency, as well as links to full-text versions of the papers where available. The next steps are likely to involve an increased blurring of database and full-text boundaries, incorporating seamless access to the best available evidence withinmedlineand a wide range of other information resources within a single search and to an increasing amount of full-text via various open-archive initiatives. As ever, the US National Library of Medicine is in the vanguard of research and further applications of itsmedlinedatabase for users within the UK will be awaited with great interest.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University Library Service, Information Services, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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