Logs 10 Millionth Journal Citation
the world's largest medical database, covers the medical literature
from 1966 to the present. When it began, it covered 239 journals,
and the National Library of Medicine News bragged that it
had "the capability of supporting up to 25 simultaneous users."
On July 10 of this year, MEDLINE
attained a major milestone when the 10 millionth journal citation
was added to the database. Today, MEDLINE
lists references from about 4,300 of the world's most respected
medical and scientific journals. Full text can be accessed for recent
editions of several hundred of those publications. And the number
of searches? More than half a million each day.
occasion of the 10 millionth record in MEDLINE
gives us an opportunity to step back and reflect on what a staggering
amount of work this represents over the decades," commented NLM
director Dr. Donald Lindberg. "We owe thanks to a corps of dedicated
NLM staff who competently order and receive the journals, create
the Medical Subject Headings, index the articles, enter the data
and maintain the database."
In the early days of MEDLINE,
NLM staff worked with typewriters and data forms to input citations
into a punched card system. Today, computers have streamlined operations
dramatically. Input is now mostly done by scanning articles, or
by importing electronic data directly from publishers.
And what was the 10 millionth citation in MEDLINE?
The article, "Particulates from PTFE degradation in terrestrial
and microgravity," appearing in Aviation, Space and Environmental
Medicine, 1999 May;70(5):505-10. The article was indexed by
an indexer working on an NLM contract using the interactive online
indexing system from her home another example of how things
have changed since MEDLINE
began. As a result of NLM's cooperation with NASA, another recent
development, this citation also appears in SPACELINE, another of
the library's family of databases, since it provides information
on the possible breakdown of polytetrafluoroethylene-coated wires
citations were updated once a month. Today, MEDLINE
is updated weekly and the bibliographic information for not-yet-indexed
citations is entered daily into PubMed, NLM's retrieval engine for
With the launch of free MEDLINE
on the World Wide Web in June 1997, usage has skyrocketed. In the
for a fee" days, the database reached a high point of 7 million
searches annually. For "free MEDLINE,"
the figure has already reached 16 million searches per month, a
number that continues to grow.
that so much more medical information is freely available to the
public via the Internet and the Web," noted Lindberg, "the MEDLINE
core of information takes on new importance and even greater relevance
to the health of the public than when the system began with record
story appeared in the August 7, 1999 issue of The