Tuesday, February 23, 2010

National Library of Medicine to End Go Local Program

Since 2001, the National Library of Medicine has supported Go Local web sites across the United States. The goal of Go Local was to connect users to health services in their local communities. This seemed like a natural extension to MedlinePlus, which provides health information. In 2001, Go Local was a unique service.

Over the past nine years, the Internet has evolved. Search engines that people use daily, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, bring health services listings to users. These sites include provider-level directory information and can collect user reviews that Go Local cannot. Health insurance sites give insured users local practice details, such as hours, fees, parking, and quality ratings based on provider or facility performance measures. To include this granularity in Go Local would not be feasible.

The changed Internet environment, coupled with declining use, has led to a decision by NLM to phase down and end its support for the MedlinePlus Go Local program. Resources are tight throughout our profession and as the internet has moved forward, it no longer makes sense to use scarce resources to compete with machine-based indexing used by the search engines.
NLM is grateful to the hundreds of people whose time, labor, ideas and patience went into creating Go Local. For many years we could proudly point to Go Local as a unique and valuable service to so many people in this country. We will be working with our partners around the country as they make decisions about what to do in their local areas.

Source: Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region.

Note: In North Carolina, Go Local online resources have been provided by NC Health Info, a service of the UNC Health Sciences Library and collaborators.


Unknown said...

It is with sadness that I heard of the end of the GoLocal datbases, first from our GoLocal database manager here in TN, and then from a libary colleague in MO who sent me this blog post.

As librarians, we know the vital importance of well-organized, accurate, updated information about health and human services -- especially now, as we as a nation face so many economic and health crises.

As the manager of a library-based 2-1-1 call center and database, I'd like to suggest 2-1-1 (and the 2-1-1 databases) as possible alternative for reliable information about non-profit and governmental health and human services agencies and programs.

At LINC/2-1-1. we have been providing community information and referral services about a wide variety of health and human services since 1975, and have been the deginated 2-1-1 call center for six counties in west TN for 5 years. We work closely with our library's Health Informtion Center, and collaborate with other libraries and with information and referral services and databases (including GoLocal) throughout our state and region.

As of December 2009, 2-1-1 serves over 241 million Americans (more than 80% of the entire population) covering all or part of 46 states (including 34 states with 90%+ coverage) plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico. The remaining states are all in various stages of planning and implementation. Every few weeks, these coverage numbers increase.

For more information about 2-1-1 and the availability of 2-1-1 call center/databases in your area, see http://211us.org/ .

--Audrey May
Public Services Suepervisor
Memphis Public Library & Information Center
(901) 415-2718

Christie said...

To clarify, NC Health Info was surprised and disappointed by NLM's recent decision to withdraw support from the centrally hosted Go Local projects. NC Health Info was the first Go Local site and operates independently of NLM support. NC Health Info's Go Local services will not be adversely affected by NLM's decision and will continue to operate.

We believe that the librarian vetted Go Local search results are superior to search engine results which often require the user to wade through irrelevant links. In contrast to NLM's experience with their centrally hosted sites, NC Health Info Go Local usage hasn't declined.

We intend to take this opportunity to make some changes to our Go Local system that will result in a product that is both more focused on North Carolina's health concerns and easier to maintain. The changes we are planning will result in an easier to use and more useful Go Local for our NC Health Info visitors.

Christie Silbajoris
Director, NC Health Info
Health Sciences Library
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill