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LIS417: NLM Classification and MeSH

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  • Thanks Gosha, that's very kind and valuable! Oliver<br /><br/>
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  • [2] The National Library of Medicine

    Both The National Library of Medicine Classification and MeSH originated at the National Library of Medicine or NLM, the national medical library of the United States. The NLM traces its roots to the Library of the Surgeon General's Office, which was established in 1836. In 1922, the Library was renamed the Army Medical Library, and in 1952 it became the Armed Forces Medical Library. In 1956 the Library was transferred from the authority of the Department of Defense to the Department of Health and Human Services and renamed the National Library of Medicine.

    The NLM is currently located in Bethesda, Maryland. The library has the largest medical collection in the world, consisting of more than 9 million items. In addition to developing and maintaining both the NLM Classification and the MeSH vocabulary, the NLM is at the forefront of developing tools for the organization of medical information and bioinformatics research. These efforts include:

    - The maintenance of the MEDLINE database, its PubMed search interface, and a digital repository of freely accessible biomedical literature

    - The indexing of nearly 5000 journals for the MEDLINE database using MeSH terms

    - The NLM leads work to develop a Unified Medical Language System, which will provide a way to translate among various medical controlled vocabulary systems including MeSH, ICD-9, ICD-10, LCSH, and many other systems used throughout the world.

    - The NLM maintains several databases of genetic information, including the complete human genome and those of many other species

    - They also produce and maintain a variety of powerful tools for researchers investigating genetics, the role of specific proteins in health and disease, and other bioinformatics topics<br /><br/>
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  • [3] Development & History of NLMC & MeSH

    In 1944, the American Library Association sponsored a Survey Report on the Army Medical Library, which proposed that the 'Library be reclassified according to a modern scheme … combin[ing] the notation of the Library of Congress system with the basic plan of the Cunningham classification' for Medical Literature that was first developed at Vanderbilt University.*

    To carry out the recommendation to create a new classification, the Library established a Classification Committee and convened a conference of medical specialists. Based largely input from these groups a Preliminary Edition of the Army Medical Library Classification was produced by Mary Louise Marshall and published in 1948. After several revisions, the 1st edition was published in 1951. When the name of the Library was changed to NLM in 1956, the NLM Classification took the name by which it has been known since.

    In 1954, the Army Medical Library issued its first official list of authorized subject headings, the Subject Heading Authority List. After several years working with and refining this list, the NLM published the first edition of MeSH in 1960.

    Both NLM Classification and MeSH have been enormously successful. NLM Classification is perhaps the most widely used classification scheme in North American medical libraries, and MeSH is the most common standardized subject language for cataloging and indexing medical literature. NLMC and MeSH are each updated annually, and are freely available for download from the NLM website.
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  • [4] NLMC: Basic Structure, Strengths, & Weaknesses

    NLM Classification covers both medical sciences and the so-called 'preclinical' sciences. The classification is broken down into 35 main classes, plus an additional '19th Century Schedule' that is used for items published between 1801 and 1913 and which allows these works to be arranged on the shelf near modern medical works in spite of the significant differences in their approach to health sciences and the practice of medicine. Pre-1801 works are classed simply among works on the history of medicine.

    Your yellow handout shows the main NLM classes. As you can see, the classes are not all parallel categories. A number of classes focus on systems, others on types of disorder, and others on categories of patients. Still others are devoted to the health professions or health care facilities.

    In terms of subject coverage, the NLM Classification is well-suited for most contemporary medical collections, both at academic institutions and in hospitals. For librarians, the schedules are simple, straightforward, and enumerative, with the result that they are fairly easy to apply. The only schedules beyond those covering the main classes are those for 19th century works and a table for noting relevant geographic aspects of a work.

    Perhaps the most significant strength of the system is that it was designed to be used in conjunction with LCC. This allows collections using NLM Classification to seamlessly integrate works not covered by NLMC into their shelf arrangement. These might include works on mathematics, statistics, psychology, animal husbandry, or any number of other subjects on the margins of medical research and practice.

    Although NLMC adequately covers contemporary North American medical practice, it is less well suited for classification of alternative medicine or non-Western approaches to health and medicine. As can be seen from the outline of main classes on your handout, NLMC is firmly rooted in Western notions about the body and the nature of disease. This is generally appropriate, as the primary users of libraries using NLMC are practitioners or researchers of Western medicine. As interest grows in alternative and non-Western traditional medicine, however, we can expect to see more such works being acquired by NLMC collections.

    A second potential problem area for NLMC is that it is concentrated on the patient as an individual. Public health and social medicine receive relatively brief treatment. While this is not a significant concern for hospital and other exclusively medical collections, it is a potential weakness when NLMC is used by various governmental public health agencies or by academic libraries serving public health, social medicine, or medical anthropology schools or departments.

    As I mentioned, the NLMC schedules are highly enumerative. This can be viewed as a weakness when one considers that there is no analytico-synthetic potential built into the system. As a result, the system does not typically describe the item’s subject content as deeply as is possible in other systems.<br /><br/>
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  • [6] NMLC: Notation

    The notational structure of the NLM Classification is quite simple. The 35 main classes are each indicated by a two-letter combination (or, in one case, by a single letter). Subordinate classes in each category are indicated by integers, in some cases followed by a decimal element. The next element in a typical NLMC call number is a Cutter number for main entry, often paired with a work mark, followed up with a publication year. Some materials are also given a geographic code from Table G, the only supplementary table used in NLMC. These Table G codes function like Cutter numbers and are placed between the class number and the main entry Cutter. They are used most often for arranging serials published by governments, hospitals, or other organizations. In the example on the screen, the Table G code is used to arrange the records of the Boston Lying-in Hospital near those of other Massachusetts institutions.

    The NLMC schedule is arranged into two main divisions. QS through QZ represent a range of 'preclinical' sciences, that is, subjects like anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, or pathology, the study of which is not directly tied to patient care. These are also the subjects first studied by students pursuing a medical education. The subjects classed in W through WZ relate more directly to the practice of medicine (although topics like hospital administration and the history of medicine are also covered here).

    The ordering of the classes is based on that of the Cunningham classification developed at the Vanderbilt University medical library. According to Eileen Cunningham, the arrangement was intended to 'conform to the curriculum and subject sequence of medical teaching' and further to arrange the 'anatomical regions and systems of the body … in logical sequence.' To be quite honest, the logic of this arrangement somewhat escapes me, both in NLMC and Cunningham's classification. Part of the reason for this is that many of the main classes are not exactly parallel to one another (for instance, Public Health, the Digestive System, and Surgery). Even what might seem to be an obvious natural order is not always observed. While Obstetrics follows Gynecology, it is itself immediately followed by Dermatology rather than Pediatrics.<br /><br/>
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  • 1. National Library of Medicine Classification and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Joshua A. Parker 4 December 2007 LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) Graduate School of Library & Information Science Simmons College • Boston, MA
  • 2. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) The National Library of Medicine  National medical library of the United States  1836: Library of the Surgeon General's Office  1922: Army Medical Library  1956: National Library of Medicine  Largest medical collection in the world  Developed and maintains the NLM Classification and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)  MEDLINE, PubMed, and PubMed Central  UMLS (Unified Medical Language System)  Maintains several databases of genetic information  Produces advanced bioinformatics research tools Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 3. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Development & History of NLMC & MeSH  1944: Need for a new specialized medical classification system recognized  1948: Preliminary edition of the Army Medical Library Classification published  1951: First edition of Army Medical Library Classification published  1954: Subject Heading Authority List published  1960: First edition of MeSH published  Present: NLMC & MeSH updated annually and are freely available for download at www.nlm.nih.gov Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 4. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) NLMC: Basic Structure, Strengths, & Weaknesses  Basic Structure  Covers preclinical as well as medical sciences  35 main classes  Supplemental 19th Century Schedule  Strengths  Well-suited for most contemporary medical collections  Simple, highly enumerative structure; easy to apply  Accommodates the use of LCC for non-medical works  Problem Areas  Alternative and non-Western medicine  Public Health/Social Medicine  Not analytico-synthetic; limited descriptive potential Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 5. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) NLM Classification: Main Classes QS Human Anatomy WI Digestive System QT Physiology WJ Urogenital System QU Biochemistry WK Endocrine System QV Pharmacology WL Nervous System QW Microbiology and Immunology WM Psychiatry QX Parasitology WN Radiology. Diagnostic Imaging QY Clinical Pathology WO Surgery QZ Pathology WP Gynecology WQ Obstetrics W Health Professions WR Dermatology WA Public Health WS Pediatrics WB Practice of Medicine WT Geriatrics. Chronic Disease WC Communicable Diseases WU Dentistry. Oral Surgery WD Disorders of Systemic, Metabolic or WV Otolaryngology Environmental Origin, etc. WW Ophthalmology WE Musculoskeletal System WX Hospitals and Other Health Facilities WF Respiratory System WY Nursing WG Cardiovascular System WZ History of Medicine WH Hemic and Lymphatic Systems 19th Century Schedule Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 6. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) NMLC: Notation  Structure:  Main Class indicated by letters  Subordinate classes by ordinal numbers  Cutters; special geographic codes (Table G) The annual report of the Boston Lying-in Hospital for 1947 WX 2  Hospitals, etc. + Serial Hospital Reports .AM4  Massachusetts (from Table G) B7L6a  Cutter for author + work mark 1947  Year of publication  Arrangement  Division between preclinical & clinical topics  Rough attempt to express structural relationships Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 7. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) NMLC: Comparison to DDC & LCC  Notation modeled on LCC  Schedules very highly enumerative, the only supplementary schedule (sometimes) applied is Table G.  Less structured than DDC; does not strongly express relationships among classes  Some mnemonic use of numbers as in DDC QX 18.2  Parasitology. Educational materials WI 18.2  Digestive System. Educational materials WN 18.2  Radiology. Educational materials WZ 18.2  History of Medicine. Educational materials Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 8. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) MeSH: Basic Structure & Strengths  Structure  Poly-hierarchical • The entry for each term fully describes the location of the term using both visual trees and notation  Syndetic Structure • See Also/See Related, XR references • Entry Term/X (Used For references) • Consider Also references  Strengths  Allows for several approaches to any single term  Scope notes and annotations for every term and qualifier (subheading)  Used for both monographic literature and indexing papers published in journals Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 9. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) MeSH Structure Example: Alzheimer Disease DISEASES PSYCHIATRY & PSYCHOLOGY Nervous System Diseases Mental Disorders Central Nervous System Diseases Delirium, Dementia, Neurodegenerative Amnestic, Cognitive Diseases Disorders Brain Diseases Tauopathies Dementia Alzheimer Disease Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 10. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) MeSH Structure Example: Sjögren's Syndrome DISEASES Eye Musculoskeletal Skin and Connective Immune System Stomatognathic Diseases Diseases Tissue Diseases Diseases Diseases Connective Tissue Mouth Diseases Lacrimal Apparatus Joint Diseases Diseases Diseases Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases Diseases Salivary Gland Arthritis Diseases Dry Eye Syndromes Arthritis, Rheumatoid Xerostomia Sjogren's Syndrome Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 11. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) MeSH: Characteristics of the Vocabulary  Extremely specific and exhaustive for medical and medically-related topics  Vocabulary designed to treat each term consistently in comparison to other parallel terms  Limited subject field helps maintain internal coherence  Particularly powerful when used with NLM's MEDLINE/PubMed, allowing for the construction of very focused searches Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 12. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) MeSH: Facilities for Coordination  Use of Qualifiers  Each qualifier has a note detailing its use parasitology (A, B1, B2, B6, C, E7, F3, J2) PS, parasitol Used with animals, higher plants, organs, and diseases for parasitic factors. In diseases, it is not used if the parasitic involvement is implicit in the diagnosis.  The description of each MeSH term includes a list of allowable qualifiers  Application of multiple terms 245 00 ‡a Salivary electrostimulation in Sjogren's syndrome. 650 _2 ‡a Xerostomia ‡x therapy. 650 _2 ‡a Xerostomia ‡x etiology. 650 _2 ‡a Sjogren's Syndrome ‡x complications. 650 _2 ‡a Salivary Glands ‡x secretion. 650 _2 ‡a Electric Stimulation Therapy. Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 13. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) MeSH: Comparison to LCSH  MeSH designed for a specific set of disciplines (medical sciences; associated basic and social sciences; health administration, etc.)  Permits much more specific description for these fields  LCSH may also be required to adequately describe non-medical works  MeSH documentation much more clear and exhaustive than that provided for LCSH Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 14. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Current Use of NLM Classification & MeSH  National Library of Medicine  Maintains NLMC and MeSH  Other Medical Libraries  Academic  Hospital  MEDLINE/PubMed  http://www.pubmed.gov/  Powerful tool for using MeSH to search biomedical literature Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 15. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Bibliography [1] Army Medical Library. Classification: Medicine. Preclinical Sciences, QS-QZ. Medicine and Related Subjects, W. 1st ed. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1951. ———. Classification: Medicine. Preclinical Sciences, QS-QZ. Medicine and Related Subjects, W. Prelim., 1948 ed. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1949. Coletti, M. H. and H. L. Bleich. quot;Medical Subject Headings used to Search the Biomedical Literature.quot; Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: JAMIA 8, no. 4 (Jul-Aug, 2001): 317-323 (accessed November 17, 2007). Cunningham, Eileen R., Eleanor G. Steinke, and Mary Louise Gladish. Classification for Medical Literature. 5th ed. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1967. Gault, L. V., M. Shultz, and K. J. Davies. quot;Variations in Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Mapping: From the Natural Language of Patron Terms to the Controlled Vocabulary of Mapped Lists.quot; Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA 90, no. 2 (Apr, 2002): 173-180 (accessed October 6, 2007). Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 16. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Bibliography [2] Hallett, K. S. quot;Separate but Equal? A System Comparison Study of MEDLINE's Controlled Vocabulary MeSH.quot; Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 86, no. 4 (Oct, 1998): 491-495 (accessed November 17, 2007). Hjørland, Birger. quot;Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), Lifeboat for Knowledge Organization. http://www.db.dk/bh/Lifeboat_KO/SPECIFIC%20DOMAINS/ medical_subject_headings.htm (accessed November 17, 2007). Jenuwine, E. S. and J. A. Floyd. quot;Comparison of Medical Subject Headings and Text-Word Searches in MEDLINE to Retrieve Studies on Sleep in Healthy Individuals.quot; Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA 92, no. 3 (Jul, 2004): 349-353 (accessed November 17, 2007). Lindberg, Donald A. B. and Robert Mehnert. quot;National Library of Medicine.quot; In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, edited by Miriam A. Drake. 2nd ed., 2013-2022. New York: Marcel Dekker, 2003 (accessed October 6, 2007). Lipscomb, Carolyn E. quot;Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).quot; Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 88, no. 3 (2000): 265-266 (accessed October 6, 2007). Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 17. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Bibliography [3] Lowe, H. J. and G. O. Barnett. quot;Understanding and using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Vocabulary to Perform Literature Searches.quot; JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 271, no. 14 (Apr 13, 1994): 1103-1108 (accessed November 17, 2007). Muench, Eugene V. Biomedical Subject Headings :A Reconciliation of National Library of Medicine (MeSH) and Library of Congress Subject Headings. 2nd ed. Hamden, Conn.: Shoe String Press, 1979. National Library of Medicine. quot;Medical Subject Headings.quot; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/ (accessed November 17, 2007). ———. quot;NLM Classification 2007.quot; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/class/ (accessed November 17, 2007). ———. Medical Subject Headings: Annotated Alphabetic List. Springfield, Va.: National Technical Information Service, distributor, 2003. ———. National Library of Medicine Classification: A Scheme for the Shelf Arrangement of Library Materials in the Field of Medicine and its Related Sciences. NIH Publication. 5th , rev ed. Bethesda, Md.; Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, 1999. Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007
  • 18. NLM Classification & Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Bibliography [4] ———. Medical Subject Headings. Bethesda, Md.: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, 1960. Olson, Tony and Gary Strawn. quot;Mapping the LCSH and MeSH Systems.quot; Information Technology and Libraries 16, no. 1 (1997): 5-19 (accessed November 17, 2007). O'Rourke, Alan J., Andrew Booth, and Nigel Ford. quot;Another Fine MeSH: Clinical Medicine Meets Information Science.quot; Journal of Information Science 25, no. 4 (1999): 275-281 (accessed November 17, 2007). Wineburgh-Freed, Maggie and Norris Medical Library. Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and NLM Classification for Catalogers: A Syllabus. 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Norris Medical Library, University of Southern California, 1997. Womack, Kristina R. quot;Conformity for Conformity's Sake? the Choice of a Classification System and a Subject Heading System in Academic Health Sciences Libraries.quot; Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 42, no. 1 (2006): 93-115 (accessed October 6, 2007). Joshua A. Parker • LIS417: Subject Cataloging & Classification (Joudrey) • Simmons College GSLIS • 4 December 2007