Request for Information (RFI): Evolving the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (UG4)

Notice Number: NOT-LM-19-005

Key Dates
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Response Date: December 02, 2019

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Library of Medicine (NLM)


The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) seeks new ideas to help improve access to health information and help inform the design of the NNLM request for applications for the 2021-2026 project period. The NNLM is managed by the National Library of Medicine.

This Request for Information (RFI) offers health sciences and public libraries, health professionals, public health workers, community organizations, and the public the opportunity to provide information about how the NNLM can best provide U.S. health professionals with better access to biomedical information and improve the public’s access to trusted health information. A fact sheet summarizing the NNLM program is available.


The NNLM is a key partner in helping NLM achieve the vision outlined in the NLM Strategic Plan 2017-2027 “to reach more people in more ways through enhanced dissemination and engagement pathways.” In addition, NLM seeks to enhance its research, development, training, and information services to make more biomedical data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR), to invent the tools and services to turn data and information into knowledge and insight, and to develop the workforce for this work. Implementing this vision will require new partnerships and ways to engage with stakeholders in the public and private sectors, including researchers, librarians, health professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators, underserved communities, and the public.

Through its products and services, NLM supports researchers, health care providers, librarians, and members of the public who seek current and trusted biomedical information and data. NLM’s many databases, tools, and services, including PubMedMedlinePlusClinicalTrials.govHazardous Substances Data BankGenetics Home Referencedatabase of Genotypes and PhenotypesUnified Medical Language System--cover health, genetics, drugs, chemicals, and many other topics. Effective community engagement is critical to assuring the NLM resources reach its wide range of audiences — from librarians to researchers and clinicians, from teenagers to their parents and seniors, from policymakers to the public. Engagement encompasses promoting awareness of available information resources, developing an understanding of users’ information needs, facilitating access and ensuring the ability to use information resources. NLM will continue to leverage the 7,500+ member organizations of the NNLM, which act as trusted ambassadors between NLM and the communities they serve. NLM also partners with the NNLM to enable a new generation of data-ready librarians and informationists to transform libraries into hubs for data literacy.

The Medical Library Assistance Act of 1965 (MLAA, P.L. 89-291) established the NNLM to assist the development of medical libraries’ services and to facilitate the dissemination and use of information related to health sciences. Over time, a growing emphasis has been placed on increasing the impact of the NNLM through partnerships with NLM and member organizations, including health sciences, hospital, academic, and public libraries, as well as health professionals, data organizations, and community-based organizations. The NNLM is coordinated by the NLM Office of Engagement and Training, working through the National Network Steering Committee. See The Nation's Health Information Network: History of the Regional Medical Library Program, 1965-1985, and an historical overview of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, 1985-2015 for more information.

The NNLM provides convenient access to biomedical and health information resources for U.S. health professionals, researchers, educators, and the public. As a core component of NLM outreach, the NNLM seeks to reduce health disparities and improve health information literacy, by providing funding, professional development, and learning opportunities for NNLM members.

The NNLM comprises eight Regional Medical Libraries funded via 5-year competitive cooperative agreements. The Regional Medical Libraries engage with 7,500+ members (for a map and more information about each region and its members/partners, see NNLM Regions). Five national offices provide professional services to support the NNLM in achieving its national initiatives, as well as serve regional needs: the NNLM DOCLINE Coordination Office, the NNLM Web Services Office, the NNLM Training Office, the NNLM Evaluation Office, and the NNLM Public Health Coordination Office. The current structure has enabled the NNLM to launch several national initiatives, including a focus on data science and a series of new or enhanced partnerships with the NIH All of Us Research Program, the NLM HIV/AIDS Community Information Outreach Program (ACIOP), and public libraries and public library associations. From the first two partnerships, new NNLM centers have been created: the NNLM All of Us Community Engagement Network, the All of Us Training & Education Center, and the NNLM ACIOP Coordinating Center.

Information Requested

NLM seeks input from current and potential user communities to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the NNLM. We’re interested in your responses to the following topics and other suggestions.

Priorities, Strategies, Partnerships

  1. Priorities NNLM should address. Consider themes related to the NLM Strategic Plan 2017-2027.
  2. Strategies to reach new and existing audiences more effectively, especially minority and underserved populations.
  3. Effective ways to partner with libraries, health organizations, and community organizations to reach health professionals, researchers, and the public.
  4. The top three health information outreach priorities for your organization in the next five years.
  5. Important new partnership opportunities for the NNLM.

Outreach Programs, Engagement, and Training

  1. New outreach roles and outreach opportunities and barriers for the NNLM.
  2. NNLM programs, activities, or other components that are of less significance and/or might be considered for elimination.
  3. Strategies to support staff at NNLM member organizations in their knowledge and ability to support NLM products and services.
  4. Types of NNLM engagement activities to promote NLM’s wide array of offerings to all audiences.
  5. Contribution of resource sharing to the NNLM’s mission to promote access to biomedical and or health information.

Membership, NNNLM Structure, Service Coordination

  1. Responsibilities and benefits of NNLM membership.
  2. Types of organizations that could be potential members for the NNLM.
  3. Structure of the NNLM steering committee, which currently consists of leaders of the Regional Medical Libraries, national offices, NNLM centers, and NLM.
  4. The geographical configuration of the NNLM. A tool and map are available to help you develop and submit suggestions.
  5. Services of the NNLM that could be coordinated nationally. Services that are best coordinated at a local or regional level.

How to Submit a Response

All responses to this RFI must be submitted to by December 2, 2019. Please limit your comments to no more than 3 pages.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary and may be submitted anonymously. Please do not include any personally identifiable or other information that you do not wish to make public. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in responses. The Government will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion. The Government reserves the right to use any submitted information on public websites, in reports, in summaries of the state of the science, in any possible resultant solicitation(s), grant(s), or cooperative agreement(s), or in the development of future funding opportunity announcements. This RFI is for informational and planning purposes only and is not a solicitation for applications or an obligation on the part of the Government to provide support for any ideas identified in response to it. Please note that the Government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for use of that information.

The data collected and maintained in the eRA system are covered under NIH Privacy Act Systems of Record Notice (SORN) 09-25-0225.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Mike Davidson
Office of Engagement and Training, National Library of Medicine