National Agricultural Library Assessment Report
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Appendix W
NLM Long-Rang Planning Process
In 1999, the Board of Regents charged the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Director with preparing a new five year Long Range Plan for the Library. The NLM's Long Range Plan 2000-2005 completes a 20-year cycle for the Library, which has "a 15-year history of successful long range planning that began in 1985."1 The original plan has been updated throughout the years leading up to the 1999 effort. The success of this ongoing long range planning process can be appreciated with the impact of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a conceptual product from a planning panel meeting.
The 1985 Long-Range Planning Process
In 1985, the NLM Board of Regents:
  • resolved to develop a long range plan to guide the Library in wisely using its human, physical, and financial resources to fulfill its mission . . .
  • recognized the need for a well-formulated plan because of rapidly evolving information technology, continued growth in the literature of biomedicine, and the need to make informed choices of intermediate objectives that would lead NLM toward its strategic, long range goals.
  • began to develop a 20-year Long Range Plan to guide the Library in using its human, physical, and financial resources to fulfill its mission.2
The NLM planning process was broad-based and directed by the Board. Participants included librarians, health professionals, biomedical scientists, medical informaticians, computer scientists, and others whose interests were intertwined with those of the Library.
More than 70 experts in various fields accepted invitations to serve on one of five planning panels. Each panel addressed the future in one of the following five areas encompassing NLM's programs and activities that provided the framework for thinking about the future
  1. Building and organizing the Library's collection
  2. Locating and gaining access in medical and scientific literature
  3. Obtaining factual information from databases
  4. Medical informatics
  5. Assisting health professions' education through information technology
The NLM chose a planning model with three components:
  1. General vision of the future 20 years hence in medicine, library and information sciences, and computer communications technology a distant goal societal objective whose achievement requires participation from many organizations and agencies
  2. Opportunities for and impediments to achieve the goal (10 years )
  3. Specific steps to take to remove impediments and take advantage of opportunities (3-5 years)
NLM staff involvement included:
  • Director described his vision of the future, "Scenario: 2005" which was provided to panel members and library staff for comment.
  • Library staff prepared background documents on NLM achievements in the five domains, and reviewed current planning
  • Senior NLM staff members also acted as resource persons to the planning panel.
The planning process ended with a report of each panel's recommendations and priorities for future NLM programs and activities in the five domains under its purview. The NLM staff analyzed and reconciled their findings, eliminated duplication and consolidated the recommendations. The final synthesized report was adopted and published in 1987 as the NLM Long Range Plan.
The 1999 Long-Range Planning Process
The Board of Regents recognized the dramatic changes occurring in the societal and technological landscape in which the NLM operates. This landscape led the Board to develop a strategic plan for the Library. The first step in the 1999 planning process was to evaluate the impact of the original Long Range Plan. Recommendations that were substantially accomplished and those requiring additional attention or redirection3 were identified and summarized. The summary was published in The NLM Track Record. 4
NLM sent The NLM Track Record to more than 250 past planning panel members and other advisors for comments and posted the Track Record on NLM's public web site. More than 100 individuals provided comments which the NLM Board of Regents asked NLM staff to incorporate into priorities for a new draft five year Plan. A broadly representative group of NLM advisors reviewed the draft in December 1999.
The NLM Long Range Plan, 2000-2005 is organized into four broad goals that have eleven objectives and more than one hundred specific program plans. The Plan "is a map of the future and a set of opportunities that awaits NLM action and program development." 5 It is not a fixed sequence of steps to accomplish stated goals and objectives that typically characterize such plans. The Board of Regents and the NLM will develop operational plans within resource limitations.
Goal 1 focuses on ongoing emphases on providing basic library services. Goals' 2-4 addresses the Library's highest priority new initiatives for special emphasis as follows:
  • health information for the public
  • molecular biology information systems
  • training for computational biology
  • definition of the research publication of the future
  • permanent access to electronic information
  • fundamental informatics research
  • global health partnerships
The NLM Long Range Plan, 2000-2005 resulted from the work of many advisors, colleagues, friends, Board members and NLM staff.
The NLM Board of Regents began a visionary process for the Library through strategic long rang planning. The planning process helped crystallize an organizational mission and goals which in turn set NLM's priorities and direction. The 1985 effort began from the starting point of extant programs and services, the foundation from which it was able to begin the process of creating the future. The successful vision was created through broad involvement of current and future customer representatives and the NLM staff. The ongoing nature of the planning process captured important new trends in biomedical information management and customer needs. NLM was able to capitalize on these trends through leveraging major assets (i.e., its collection). These assets had been identified and enhanced throughout the original planning process.
The following documents are available in full-text on the NLM Web-site at
  1. National Library Medicine Long Range Plan. 2000-2005. Report of the Board of Regents, National Library of Medicine. Bethesda, Md: National Library of Medicine, 2000. [Pre-pblication version October 2000.]
  2. Long Range Plan of the National Library of Medicine: Report of the Board of Regents (1987).
  3. National Library of Medicine Long Range Plan. The NLM Track Record.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.

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Last Updated August 13, 2002