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Profiles in Science
The Digital Library Research & Development project investigates aspects of creating and disseminating digital collections including proposed and adopted standards, emerging technologies and formats, effects on previously established processes, and protection of original materials.
Our early experiments in document management and conversion resulted in a digital library system of historical materials from the 1960's and 1970's. The Regional Medical Programs Collection consists of approximately 40,000 pages comprising some 1,500 documents. Though the work on this system predated recent research in digital libraries, we addressed many of the same issues that currently face digital library projects.
Working together with NLM's History of Medicine Division, we launched Profiles in Science® in September 1998. The site uses innovative digital technology to make available the manuscript collections of prominent biomedical researchers, medical practitioners, and those fostering science and health. The collections contain published and unpublished materials, including manuscripts, diaries, laboratory notebooks, correspondence, photographs, poems, drawings and audiovisual resources. Some of the collections have been donated to NLM, and others have been digitized in cooperation with collaborating institutions. The subjects of the collections presently available on Profiles in Science include:
Profiles in Science provides researchers, educators, and potential future scientists worldwide access to unique biomedical information previously accessible only to patrons able to make an in person visit to the institutions holding the physical manuscript collections. Profiles in Science also serves as a tool to attract scientists to donate their collections to archives or repositories in order to preserve their papers for future generations. It decreases the need for handling the original materials by making available high quality digital surrogates of the items. Standardized, in-depth descriptions of each item make the materials widely accessible, even to individuals with disabilities. The growing Profiles in Science digital library provides ongoing opportunities for future experimentation in digitization, optical character recognition, handwriting recognition, automated image identification, item description, digital preservation, emerging standards, digital library tools, and search and retrieval.