Open access to medical knowledge matters

Submitted by Dean Giustini on April 17, 2007 - 16:45

As an open access (OA) librarian, I would like to share my thoughts about the principles of open access that I value in my chosen profession. First, open access to scholarly information in the digital world is not only a core value for me, but for many librarians. It's in our DNA (well, I am a medical librarian).

The themes that run through the writings of great thinkers in library science such as John Shaw Billings (who was a physician, and the first director of the National Library of Medicine), Charles Cutter, Melville Dewey, Ranganathan - revisit the notion of making information openly and easily-accessible by all who are made curious by it. These ideas fired my thinking in graduate school: organize information, remove barriers to its access, preserve access to knowledge for future generations. This is why I became a librarian. These values are central to open access.

As a medical librarian, I would only add that - insofar as it's practical - free, unfettered and open access to health information is a basic human right; essential for sustainability of the planet; for peace. Lack of access to reliable, trusted information in developing countries has led to many intractable health problems, too numerous to list.

I look forward to collaborating with physicians and health librarians, and writing about information technologies, learning theories and upholding principles of findability, on the OM blog.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.


any plans to have "open medicine" available

en français aussi ?

Hi, Editors, congratulations for creating this Internet based resource.

I would like to make the point that I think you should revise the policy of not adding at the end of the author's name the initials of their academic achievement, ( MD, PhD and so on).

Who is writing the article? a student? a custodian? a nurse and so on, in fact, it smacks terribly of this anonymity that is pervasive in all Canadian hospitals now, in which nobody seems to wear a name tag anymore, and if they do, it lists only the first name and no credentials after, so no one knows who one is dealing with.

        How about some recognition for all? it really makes it easier for us readers to know what academic background the authors and discussers have.

               Hope you consider my comment.

                               Alex Porzecanski, MD


Dear reader,

It is not a priority for us at this time to publish in French given that it is not the language of science, but we will accept papers in French though. If you have further questions, please let us know.

Anita Palepu, MD, MPH - Co-editor, Open Medicine

My Dear Canadian Medical Bloggers:

What a pleasure to come across this site. Great job. I used to represent the Government of Canada in the Biotechnology Sector in Northern California.

Very cool and Canadian to come up with a blog like this. Impressive. I thnk it would be great if we had some papers and forums on the preventive role of nutrition.

Scientists at UC Berkeley have recently made a discovery in the field of nutrition which to me appears to be very significant and possibly worth a whole paper on this blog. They have discovered that a compound in broccoli is a very potent activator of the immune system and as such it has potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties, paving the way for the therapeutic use of this compound for a variety of diseases.

Just thought I'd bring this to everyone's attention. The compound is called Diindolylmethane and it is currently used to treat RRP tumors and is in Phase III for Cervical Dysplasia. Until recently, it was not clearly understood how this compound works until the former Chair of the Nutritional Sciences Dept at Berkeley helped to uncover its molecular mode of action--potent immune modulation through interferon-gamma potentiation. Fascinating.

More info about this discovery is available at:

This a very inspiring and exciting post. I'm neither a librarian nor physician but I do agree with your philosophy.

Do you envisage yourself also collaborating with allied health professionals or due to resource limitations, will you be limiting your interaction to physicians?