Early in March the Director of the National Library of Medicine or NLM (USA) – Dr Patti Brennan wrote this blog post – Vaccines, Vaccinations, and NLM. She describes briefly her own journey to getting the vaccine.
More interestingly she described how libraries in the US helped the public getting their vaccine, how the NLM played a big role in helping get the vaccine to all. In India we are aware of teachers being roped in for election duties and more. I wonder whether we would ever think of librarians being involved in vaccination efforts? Let us learn what they did out there.
Dr Brennan mentions that public libraries in the US provided internet access to the public who did not have computers or did not know how to use them, to schedule their vaccine appointments. Some even became sites for distribution of the vaccine!
Back to the NLM, she describes – “We played a key role in making sure the genomic basis for vaccines and therapeutics were freely available to the public.” And she describes the GenBank being available to the public. GenBank is the world’s largest database of publicly available genetic sequences.
For health professionals – the NLM has a whole bunch of resources (apart from the well known PubMed) – that focus on SARS-2 and COVID 19. And she finally describes how the NLM has documented information about pandemics – right back to the great influenza pandemic of 1918
Can we use our libraries and librarians in many meaningful ways? The answer today is yes and no. Many may immediately know about the “no”. Few know about the “Yes” angle. It will involve more work, but will have lots of returns in the long run!
As a country that had produced Dr SR Ranganathan – the Father of Library Science movement, it would be sad if we did not do this hard work