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Profiles in Science

Photo of Christian Boehmer Anfinsen, Jr. (1916-1995), American biochemist who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for work that helped explain the structure and composition of proteins in living cells.
Project information

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  The collections contain published and unpublished materials, including manuscripts, diaries, laboratory notebooks, correspondence, photographs, poems, drawings and audiovisual resources.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.

Gallagher ME. Improving Software Sustainability: Lessons Learned from Profiles in Science. Archiving. 2013;2013:74-79.
Gallagher ME, Moffatt C. The Profiles in Science Digital Library: Behind the Scenes. Proc ACM/IEEE Joint Conf Digit Libr. 2012: 433–434. doi: 10.1145/2232817.2232928.
Gallagher ME. Keeping the Promises Associated with Your Digital Assets: Is it Possible? In: Archiving 2007 Final Program and Proceedings, pp.146-149, 2007.
Walker FL, Gallagher ME, Thoma GR. PDF File Migration to PDF/A: Technical Considerations. Proc IS&T Archiving 2007. Arlington, Virginia, May 2007; 6-11.
Gallagher ME, Moffatt C. Surviving Change: The First Step Toward Sustaining Your Digital Library In: J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2006: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 1, 2006.
McCray AT, Gallagher ME. Principles for Digital Library Development Communications of the ACM. 2001 May; 44(5): 48-54.
McCray AT, Gallagher ME, Flannick MA. Extending the role of metadata in a digital library system. In: Proceedings of the IEEE Forum on Research and Technology Advances in Digital Libraries, pp. 190-9, 1999.