Request for Information (RFI): Strategic Plan for the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Notice Number: NOT-LM-17-002

Key Dates
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Response Date : New Date - January 23, 2017 as per issuance of NOT-LM-17-003

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Library of Medicine (NLM)


The National Library of Medicine is undertaking a Strategic Planning Process and is soliciting input from its broad stakeholder community.
We recognize that many of our stakeholders generously replied to the 2015 RFI regarding future directions of NLM.  Input provided in 2015 is already under consideration and need not be re-submitted.  The 2015 RFI was issued by NIH on behalf of the NLM Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) to obtain input for their June 2015 report ( on a vision for the future of NLM in the context of NLM’s leadership transition and emerging NIH data science priorities.  The current RFI is issued to obtain public input on goals and priorities for NLM’s next strategic plan.


As defined in statute, the purpose of the NLM is to “assist the advancement of medical and related sciences and to aid the dissemination and exchange of scientific and other information important to the progress of medicine and to the public health.” As the world’s largest biomedical library, NLM presents a highly visible face of NIH across the United States and around the globe. Through its information systems, biomedical informatics and data science research portfolio, extensive training programs, and many partnerships, NLM plays an essential role in furthering fundamental research; catalyzing and supporting the translation of basic science into new treatments, products, and improved practice; and providing useful decision support for health professionals, the public health and emergency response workforce, and patients.

In the ten years since development of the NLM’s last long range plan, there have been significant advances in biomedical informatics; major new initiatives at the NIH in data science, precision medicine, and open access to biomedical information; and changes in the environment and infrastructure of our country’s health systems.  NLM is committed to building a data infrastructure that will support the future of biomedical research.

Planning Themes

As we undertake this strategic planning process, the NLM will be considering priorities and future directions around the following four themes:

1)  Role of NLM in advancing data science, open science, and biomedical informatics

NLM serves as the organizational leader and a major sponsor of research, development, training and workforce development in data science, information science, biomedical informatics, and health sciences librarianship, all of which facilitate open science. Understanding trends in data management, curation, knowledge representation, analysis technologies, communications infrastructure, and the semantics and importance of new classes of health-relevant data will be essential to the institution’s success in these areas in the future.

2)  Role of NLM in advancing biomedical discovery and translational science

NLM is a global resource that supports and catalyzes health-related scientific discovery and effective translation of new knowledge into practice.  Integrated retrieval and analysis tools provide linkages that promote discovery across a wide variety of databases containing biomedical literature, genomic information, and other scientific and clinical data. Novel translational resources such as accelerate accrual to clinical research studies and promote scientific integrity via publication of study designs and research results.  Researcher access to new classes of data, such as electronic health records, is supporting discovery science.  Both curiosity-driven and translational science are expected to continue to evolve rapidly over the coming decade.

3)  Role of NLM in supporting the public’s health: clinical systems, public health systems and services, and personal health

NLM’s mission includes providing information to promote health and reduce the burden of suffering from disease worldwide.  Healthcare organizations are undergoing dramatic changes in response to the need to demonstrate value, safety, and effectiveness. With its initiatives to distribute and promote adoption of health data standards, NLM has been influential in enabling interoperability of clinical systems and meaningful use of electronic health records. Factors such as behavioral and lifestyle characteristics, environmental exposures, and biomarkers of immune status are becoming more important.  New technologies and communication tools are enabling individuals to reach goals for health promotion and disease prevention.  Novel validated models for decision support are demanded by the expanded complexity of knowledge in all disciplines of human health and disease.

4)  Role of NLM in building collections to support discovery and health in the 21st century

NLM has the world’s largest collection of published biomedical literature, with many items that are unavailable anywhere else.  The NLM collections already extend far beyond traditional publications, whether in physical or digital format, to include unpublished manuscripts, images, video, sound recordings, web pages, and, especially, databases containing a wide variety and enormous quantities of digital data. The nature of scholarly publication and scientific discovery continue to evolve rapidly, with implications for what data and information NLM should collect and the methods to be used to acquire, archive, and disseminate new data, information and knowledge relevant to human health and disease.

Information Requested

For each of the four themes described above (data and open science, discovery and translational science, public’s health, and collections), we invite input on the most audacious goals and the most compelling questions that could potentially drive innovation in research and information systems for the next decade and beyond.

We are seeking input from our research community and users of our information services and analysis tools on what they can imagine as the greatest achievements for biomedical informatics research or biomedical information access and use over the next 10 years. We seek your input as we endeavor to push the boundaries of information science and biomedical informatics, identify knowledge gaps, and develop the scientific expertise needed to bridge them.

Within the four planning themes, we invite your comments in the following areas. 

1)  Identify what you consider an audacious goal in your area of interest – a challenge that may be daunting but would represent a huge leap forward were it to be achieved.  Include input on the barriers to and benefits of achieving the goal.

2)  The most important thing NLM does in this area, from your perspective.

3)  Research areas that are most critical for NLM to conduct or support.

4)  Healthcare systems and public health arenas in which NLM participation is most critical.

5)  New data types or data collections anticipated over the next 10 years.

6)   Other comments, suggestions, or considerations, keeping in mind that the aim is to build the NLM of the future.

How to Submit a Response

To respond to this RFI, please go to the submission website. To ensure consideration, responses must be submitted by January 9, 2017. We do not require you to provide your name with the response.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary. This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health, or individual NIH Institutes or Centers. The NIH does not intend to make any type of award based on responses to this RFI or to pay for either the preparation of information submitted or the Government’s use of such information.

The NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder's submission. However, responses to the RFI may be reflected in future funding opportunity announcements. The information provided will be analyzed and may be shared publicly or appear in reports. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s).


Please direct all inquiries to:

Office of Health Information Programs Development
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
Telephone:  301-496-2311
Email relevant to this RFI: