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The National Library of Medicine

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), in Bethesda, Maryland, is a part of the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since its founding in 1836, NLM has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice. It is the world's largest biomedical library and the developer of electronic information services that deliver trillions of bytes of data to millions of users every day. Scientists, health professionals, and the public in the US and around the globe search the Library's online information resources more than one billion times each year.

The Library is open to all and has many services and resources--for scientists, health professionals, historians, and the general public. NLM has nearly 12 million books, journals, manuscripts, audiovisuals, and other forms of medical information on its shelves, making it the largest health-science library in the world.

In today's increasingly digital world, NLM carries out its mission of enabling biomedical research, supporting health care and public health, and promoting healthy behavior by:

Scientific Information Services: The most frequently consulted online scientific medical resource in the world is MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a publicly available database of over 18 million journal citations from 1948 to the present.

Another important part of NLM's vast online holdings is PubMed Central® (PMC), a Web-based repository of biomedical journal literature providing free, unrestricted access to more than 1.5 million full-text articles.

national library of medicineThe National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) distributes GenBank®, a collection of all known DNA sequences, and also provides access to the assembled Human Genome data. NCBI also has a prominent role in the important new Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) project, an NIH-wide initiative directed at understanding the genetic factors underlying human disease. In 2007, NCBI significantly expanded its breadth of public resources by developing the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP). These and other NCBI resources are accessible at

It has been 14 years since the Visible Human Project® male and female datasets were released by NLM's Lister Hill Center. The datasets (some 50 gigabytes in all) are being applied in a wide range of projects by nearly 2,500 licensees in 49 countries.

The Specialized Information Services Division (SIS) offers a wide range of resources relating to environmental health and toxicology. Among the best known is TOXNET®, a collection of databases on hazardous chemicals, toxic releases and environmental health. SIS also compiles information on HIV/AIDS, disaster preparedness and other topics.

Information Services for the Public: The Library has extensive information resources to serve the general public. The Library's main portal for consumer health information is MedlinePlus®, available in both English and Spanish (MedlinePlus en español). MedlinePlus has comprehensive, up-to-date, easy-to-read information on nearly 800 health topics. It also provides interactive health tutorials and a collection of surgery videos. MedlinePlus features information on thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as alternative treatments such as herbals. And, to provide the public with more health care news it can use, NLM staff oversees the production of the free, quarterly NIH MedlinePlus magazine and its Spanish-language counterpart, NIH MedlinePlus Salud. provides the public with comprehensive information about all types of clinical research studies. The site has over 71,000 protocol records sponsored by the US government, the pharmaceutical industry, and academic and international organizations, in all 50 states and 165 countries.

Genetics Home Reference is NLM's Web site for consumer-friendly health information on genetic conditions. This information resource bridges consumer health information and scientific bio informatics data, and it links to many existing resources, both at NLM and at other reliable sites.

Another information resource for the public is, which is maintained by the Library in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging and other NIH institutes. The site features information on topics of interest to seniors, with special features like enlargeable type and a "talking" function that allows users to listen as the text is read to them.

NLM has information for the public, too, on toxicology, environmental health, and HIV/AIDS. The Household Products Database, provides easy-to-understand data in consumer-friendly language on the potential health effects of more than 2,000 ingredients contained in more than 7,000 common household products. Tox Town® points out many harmful substances and environmental hazards not only in a town but in a port, a big city, a farm, and the US-Mexico border area. The Division has also created a series of information portals targeted to special populations, including Native Americans, Asian Americans, and those living in the Arctic.

ToxMystery, an interactive Web site for children ages 7-10, teaches users about potential chemical hazards in a home. There is also a Spanish-language version (click on "español") of this lively interface.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine: NLM's key partner in making information available is the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The network consists of 5,600 member institutions, including eight Regional Medical Libraries that receive NLM support, 125 resource libraries connected to medical schools, and more than 5,000 libraries located primarily in hospitals and clinics.

Grant Programs:The Extramural Programs Division provides grants to support research in medical informatics, health information science and biotechnology information, as well as for research training in these areas. Network planning and development grants support computer and communications systems in health institutions and the study of new opportunities with high-speed computer networks in the health sciences. Health science library resource grants assist in improving information access and services for health professionals. Research and publications in the history of medicine and the life sciences are also funded.

Annual Statistical Profile of NLM: (September 30, 2008)

Visitor Information:

Address: 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894

Phone (Toll-Free): 888.FIND.NLM (888.346.3656)

Tours: Mon.-Fri. (except Federal holidays), 1:30-2:30 PM. Originate in NLM Visitor Center, off first floor lobby of Bldg. 38A, Lister Hill Center. For group tours of NLM: 301.594.7526. For exhibition tours: 301.594.1947.

Reading Room Hours: (Main Reading Room) Mon.-Fri., 8:30 AM-5:00 PM; Sat., 8:30 AM-2:00 PM (except Federal holiday weekends). (History of Medicine Reading Room) Mon.-Fri., 8:30 AM-5:00 PM (except Federal holidays).

The National Institutes of Health, like all Federal Government facilities, has instituted security measures to ensure the safety of our patients, employees, guests and facilities. The national threat advisory level, determined by the Department of Homeland Security (, is Yellow (elevated).

All visitors must enter through the NIH Gateway Center. You will be asked to submit to a vehicle or personal inspection. Visitors over 15 years of age must provide a form of government-issued ID such as a driver's license or passport. Visitors under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

Please be aware: Federal law prohibits the following items on Federal property: firearms, explosives, archery equipment, dangerous weapons, knives with blades over 2 ½ inches, alcoholic beverages and open containers of alcohol.

Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation such as the Metro rail subway system which has a convenient stop (Medical Center) on the NIH campus. Visit the "Metro" site for information on fares and schedules

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to safety and security at the NIH, including information about pedestrian entrances, parking and general campus access, is available at:

Visitor Gateway Center

Visitors will be required to show one (1) form of identification (a government-issued photo ID-driver's license, passport, green card, etc.) and to state the purpose of their visit.

The NIH Gateway Center is located adjacent to the Medical Center Metro Station at the South Drive entrance to campus from Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue (Route 355). It combines visitor parking, non-commercial vehicle inspection and visitor ID processing, all in one location. The NIH will process all visitors in vehicles or as pedestrians.

Patients and patient visitors should continue to enter campus at the West Drive/Cedar Lane entrance during the hours of 7am - 7pm, Monday - Friday.
Clinical Center Hospitality staff will assist patients at the entrance weekdays
(Please note that this entrance is closed on weekends and holidays.)
To view a map detailing the Patient Visitor Entrance, please visit: (PDF - 479 K)


Gateway Center (for Pedestrians) - Building 66: Open 24 hours
For individuals arriving as pedestrians, the Gateway Center (Building 66) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, capable of handling single individuals to large busloads of visitors, quickly and efficiently.


For visitors arriving in vehicles, on motorcycles or bicycles, the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Station (Building 66A), provides multiple inspection lanes and allows visitors to go through inspection and get a visitor badge in one centralized, efficient process. Vehicles enter the Gateway Center complex through a new roadway, "NIH Gateway Drive," just south of the intersection of the previous visitor entrance at South Drive and Rockville Pike. Vehicles that choose to bypass parking in MLP-11 will go through inspection and enter campus at Center Drive near the National Library of Medicine. (See Gateway Map:

Gateway Center Vehicle Inspection (Building 66A):

Monday - Friday, 5am - 10pm

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After 10pm on weekdays, and on weekends & holidays, visitors in vehicles should enter via the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility (CVIF) — Building 67. The CVIF is located on Rockville Pike (Route 355) between the North Drive and Wilson Drive employee entrances. Visitors gain entry into the CVIF traveling southbound on Rockville Pike.

Taxies may enter campus via the Gateway Center Vehicle Inspection Center (or CVIF), and must use the CVIF when the Gateway Center Vehicle Inspection Center is closed.


Please note: visitor parking is limited at NIH. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation such as the Metro rail subway system which has a convenient stop (Medical Center) on the NIH campus. Visit the "Metro" site for information on fares and schedules

The Gateway complex also includes MLP-11, a 342-space, multi-level underground parking garage. This 'visitor-only' lot will be the primary visitor parking for the NIH main campus. We strongly encourage all visitors to park in this garage as there will be limited visitor parking on campus, other than for patients and visitors to the Clinical Center. Vehicles parking in MLP-11 are outside of the perimeter security and will not go through vehicle inspection, reducing the amount of time it takes to get on campus.

MLP-11 Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday
6am - 9pm (entrance)
6am - 11pm (exit)

Saturday-Sunday: Closed
* When MLP-11 is closed, visitors can park in lots on the NIH main campus.

* Visitors parking in MLP-11 should proceed to the Gateway Center to get a visitor badge and either walk or take a shuttle bus to their destination.
* Vehicles left in the MLP-11 parking garage after 11pm on weekdays or during weekends are subject to ticketing and towing.
* The cost to park in MLP-11 is $2 per hour for the first three hours, $12 maximum for the entire day. This is the same rate currently charged for all visitor parking at the NIH.

Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility (CVIF)

Commercial vehicle deliveries must undergo security screening at the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility (CVIF). It is located on Rockville Pike—between North Drive and Wilson Drive, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (inbound traffic only).

Commercial food and catering delivery vehicles should enter via the CVIF. Food deliveries made in private vehicles without commercial signage may use either the CVIF or the Gateway Center.

Vendors and contractors with frequent official business at NIH can be issued special temporary IDs. You must provide an original letter on company letter head or a memo from your NIH Project Officer justifying your need for a temporary ID. The letter/memo must contain your full name and date of birth and must be presented in person with a valid photo ID at the NIH Parking Office in Building 31C, B3 level, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (phone 301-496-6851).

Meetings and Special Events

Mission-related activities are allowed during normal business hours but require special permission for groups of 50 or more. Mission related activities during evenings and weekends for all groups require special permission. NIH conferences and special events are governed and approved by the policy " Conditions for Access to and Use of NIH Facilities for Group Functions, Activities, and Special Events." (PDF - 86.4 MB) Contact NIH Special Events for guidance at 301-496-9966.

Special Information for Clinical Center Patients

For information about planning your visit to the NIH Clinical Center, please visit the Clinical Center web site at


Information for bicyclists is available at

Traffic Advisories

Tune your radios to 1660 AM for further NIH traffic, parking and security advisories. For questions, please contact the ORS Information Line at or 301-594-6677, TTY 301-435-1908.

Visitor Parking and Transportation

Visitors must park in designated visitor parking lots. Patients may park 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the Clinical Center garage, P-1 level. Vehicles will be inspected prior to parking in underground or multi-level garages.

Campus Shuttle Schedule

The NIH Campus Shuttle is free of charge and runs daily, both on and around campus and from campus to various off-campus NIH buildings.

Shuttle schedule (for Blackberry)

The URL for BlackBerry devices is This application is suitable for BlackBerry models 6710 and 6510. It is not suitable for models 850, 950, and 957 due to memory limitation. This feature requires that the BlackBerry subscriber has Wireless Internet access.

If you have questions, please contact We will be glad to test other devices that you have.

Building Security

Due to the checking of IDs at the perimeter, employees and visitors will not be required to show their ID again to gain access to the majority of buildings on the NIH Bethesda campus during the normal business day. Employees and visitors should continue to wear their identification prominently at all times while on campus.

Guards will remain at certain buildings to address specific program requirements such as sensitive research and safety concerns. At building entrances where guards are posted:

After-hours building access will require the use of an employee ID at electronic access card readers at building entrances and certain internal areas. Similar, appropriate security adjustments will be made at off-campus facilities. Employees are encouraged to be vigilant and report anyone using unauthorized entrances or suspicious activity to the NIH Police at 301-496-5685.

Emergency Preparedness

Information regarding emergency planning and preparedness at the NIH is available in the NIH Emergency Preparedness Handbook

NLM Visitors Center and Tours

The NLM Visitor Center, located in the lobby of the Lister Hill Center (NIH Building 38A), is open weekdays except Federal holidays, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. It offers an excellent orientation to the National Library of Medicine through its tours, printed information and interactive computer displays.


Tours of the Library originate in the NLM Visitor Center (Room 127, Building 38A) and take place Monday through Friday (except Federal holidays) at 1:30 p.m. The one-hour tour includes a 12-minute, high-definition television (HDTV) presentation, "Expanding the Medical Universe," an overview of NLM programs and services, demonstrations of MEDLINE®, MedlinePlus® and other databases, and a walking tour that includes the computer room, reading room, exhibition area and History of Medicine Division. Reservations for the 1:30 tour are not required for groups of five (5) or fewer, although it is helpful to notify us in advance once your plans are firm.

For more information about the daily 1:30 tour, or to schedule a special group tour at other times, please contact Visitor Center director Shana Potash at 301.594.7526 or Please call also if you'd like us to show the NLM video in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian or Spanish. With advance notice, we are happy to honor such requests.

Literature and Giveaway Items

Printed information in the vestibule describes many of NLM's programs and services. In addition, there are NLM giveaways such as pens and postcards. Interactive Displays

Watch for a growing number of interactive displays introducing you to NLM's history, research and development projects and more. "Turning the Pages," a technology that lets users explore classic books from NLM's collection virtually, is now on display and is a favorite with visitors.

Directions to the NLM Visitor Center

The Lister Hill Center (Building 38A) is just off Center Drive (which intersects with Rockville Pike), on the NIH campus. The Lister Hill Center is approximately 300 yards from the Medical Center stop on the Metro Red Line Parking.

Metered parking for visitors is available in front of the main Library (Building 38) at a rate of $.25 in a 10-minute zone and $.50 in a 20-minute zone. Maximum charge is $6.00 for three hours. Please do not park in the "NIH EMPLOYEE ONLY" spaces or other spaces unauthorized for public use. You may be ticketed or towed.