I found an interesting resource – the Medical Library Search Engine – which provides a way for professionals to just search resources which are available online through the NLM and many medical libraries across the country. I was intrigued, so I decided to play around with it a bit. Here are my conclusions from examination.
Upsides: This is a valuable and unique tool, combining as it does resources from a large number of medical libraries across multiple countries. It provides a quick way for medical librarians to search websites which contain information particularly relevant to their needs and interests – for example, the collection development policies of other medical libraries. The wide range of the search also paves the way for professionals to discover libraries and resources they might not have known about before.
Downsides: There are a number of medical libraries not included in the engine – for instance, it covers UAB’s Lister Hill, but not UA’s smaller medical library. It could certainly benefit from extended coverage. Additionally, the second of the recommended searches turns up no hits. This either suggests that material has been removed or the strategy is faulty. Both point to the need for a more careful curation of the site.
Bottom line: Despite its limitations, this is definitely a good starting point for a search, especially when looking for information or aspects especially related to medical libraries.