Who's Using the NCI-Frederick Scientific Library?

Written by Dr. Howard Young
November/December 2011

Howard Young

During my 30+ years at the NIH, most of them here in Frederick, I have seen drastic changes in the role of the Scientific Library in the conduct of science. Personally, I have never been one to spend a great deal of time in a library, even during my undergraduate years. Nevertheless, I could not imagine how I could have conducted science without the help and resources of the Scientific Library.

In my early days here in Frederick, I availed myself quite frequently of the document copy service. While this required me to dutifully fill out document request forms, it relieved me of the necessity to go to the Library, find the journal and make myself a copy. I remember regular requests for interoffice envelopes from the Library, as they used hundreds of them every week. With the advent of the electronic age, this process ended, and yet the basis of the Library has not changed. The Scientific Library is still the reason we obtain the latest scientific information quickly and efficiently.

Furthermore, this process can have an impact that goes far beyond just receiving the latest publication in one's area of interest. For example, in my own case, a weekly email referring me to papers published that contain specific keywords in their abstracts has led me to begin a collaboration with a lab in Malaysia. I would have never seen their publication without this regular update, as their paper was in a journal that I never read.

I am also enthusiastic about the new outreach the Library has taken to meet the current and future needs of the scientific community. From the Reading Diversions Book Club, to the Summer Video Series, to their highlighting new online resources, and to their adaptation of the Library website for smart phones, all indicates that the Scientific Library of today and of the future will continually evolve with the science community that it serves.