Characteristics of Project Management at Institutions Sponsoring National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus Go Local**

By Olney, Cynthia A.; Backus, Joyce E. B. et al. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2010 | Go to article overview

Characteristics of Project Management at Institutions Sponsoring National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus Go Local**


Olney, Cynthia A., Backus, Joyce E. B., Klein, Lori J., Journal of the Medical Library Association


Objectives: Through interviews with the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus Go Local collaborators, an evaluation team sought to identify process characteristics that are critical for long-term sustainability of Go Local projects and to describe the impact that Go Local projects have on sponsoring institutions.

Methods: Go Local project coordinators (n=44) at 31 sponsor institutions participated in semi-structured interviews about their experiences developing and maintaining Go Local sites. Interviews were summarized, checked for accuracy by the participating librarians, and analyzed using a general inductive methodology.

Results: Institutional factors that support Go Local projects were identified through the interviews, as well as strategies for staffing and partnerships with external organizations. Positive outcomes for sponsoring institutions also were identified.

Conclusions: The findings may influence the National Library of Medicine team's decisions about improvements to its Go Local system and the support it provides to sponsoring institutions. The findings may benefit current sponsoring institutions as well as those considering or planning a Go Local project.

INTRODUCTION

The National Library of Medicine's (NLM's) MedlinePlus Go Local [1] provides statewide or regional databases of health-related services linked to health topics in MedlinePlus, NLM's consumer health website. Links between MedlinePlus and Go Local allow users to move easily between researching a health topic and searching for a health service related to the topic. For instance, a user in Cook County, Illinois, can look up information about arthritis on MedlinePlus, then click the Go Local link on the topic page to find rheumatologists practicing in or near that county. Alternatively, a user can search Go Local for an area acupuncturist, then use the MedlinePlus link to locate information about acupuncture treatment.

NLM's motivation for starting Go Local was to provide a means for the public to find relevant health services from the health content on MedlinePlus. The long-term goal of MedlinePlus Go Local is to improve access to health services by providing a wellorganized, sustainable, up-to-date, and useful collection of health services that serves an entire geographic area, as defined by the sponsoring institution. Staff at sponsoring institutions in the United States compile and manage a collection of local health services for their state or regions, with most using a central computer system managed by NLM. Most sponsoring institutions are health sciences or hospital libraries, but several projects have been managed by other organizations such as a community-based crisis intervention agency and a university-based rural health research center. Go Local is not available in all states.

Sponsoring sites dedicate a tremendous amount of resources - specifically staff time - to Go Local projects on an ongoing basis. The initial effort of locating and entering health services information into the database is extremely time consuming, and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine's (NN/LM's) Regional Medical Libraries provide nominal one-time funding to sites. However, the process of auditing and updating records, which are checked regularly, is also labor intensive and requires an ongoing commitment from the sponsoring institutions.

The first Go Local site was NC Health Info, started in 2001 when NLM funded a three-year pilot with the Health Sciences Library and the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. NC Health Info launched in early 2003 [2-4].

After the success of the pilot site, NLM found early adopters who wanted to start a Go Local service for their own state or region. Because the UNC pilot project demonstrated the significant expense of creating and maintaining a software system to manage Go Local and NLM could centralize the system and provide it to all sites, NLM staff decided to take the cost-effective route of building a centralized system that could be used for any Go Local project. …

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