The Republican Scientific Medical Library (RSML) plays an important role in providing scientists and specialists, research institutions and medical and preventive treatment facilities, educational establishments and other healthcare facilities of the Republic of Belarus with information and library services.
29 May 1939 USSR Narcomzdrav (People’s Commissariat of Health of the USSR) issued an order according to which Narcomzdravs of the union republics were to develop the plan of organizing medical library network and to create a fundamental library at each regional health department by the end of 1940.
1940 a separate budget and staff for the BSSR scientific medical library were approved. According to the order № 98 of 10 March 1940 signed by Head of Minsk medical institute Shults F.Y., an outstanding bibliographer and founder of the library service in our country Simanovsky I.B. was appointed director of the State scientific medical library by Minsk medical institute. This is the day to be considered the day when the RSML was founded. During the first year only the collection of the library reached 15000 items.
1941 the Great Patriotic War interrupted work of the library. All the book stock was destroyed during occupation period. Only in 1944 the Republican scientific medical library of the BSSR Narcomzdrav headed by S.F.Sergeeva resumed its activity according to the BSSR Sovnarcom (Council of People’s Commissars) special resolution № 426.
The most important point in the process of library restoration was undertaking functions of research and organization centre for all medical libraries in the republic. In April 1945 with the view of complete destruction of regional medical libraries during war the BSSR Narcomzdrav decreed to organize a regional medical library at each regional health department. Since 1954 the library has become a separate establishment and has been located in the building of Minsk regional clinical hospital in Podlesnaya street (isolated square of the library is 230 square metres). According to the BSSR Minzdrav (Ministry of Health) order №488 10 August 1954 M.L.Zhuk was appointed director of the State scientific medical library.
Since 1975 the library has become a republican branch depository. In a year the library moved to the building in Fabritsiusa street, 28 specially constructed for it which happened mostly thanks to the director L.N.Pogrebnaya. L.N.Pogrebnaya headed the RSML since 1968 until 1982. Under her supervision many reforms took place. The RSML started to receive a paid depository copy of medical literature, purchase all the medical journals issued in the USSR and most significant foreign periodicals. Many efforts were made to improve reference body as well as forms and methods of library services.
In 1960-1980s the RSML developed into main centre of national medical bibliography, active research studies and library services.
In 1990s modern computer technologies were introduced in the RSML. Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus approved the project of the Republican scientific medical library automation which includes automation of all library and information network processes, providing online access to the library’s catalogues and free access to the global network Internet. It is hard to overestimate the role of E. F. Gorelova, the head of the library in 1982-2001, in automation process. In January 1995 the European Regional Bureau of the World Health organization decided to make the library the Centre of the WHO documentation on the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
Today the RSML is transforming into modern information centre. Due to the financial support of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus extensive repairs of the library’s building are carried out, modern library furniture and equipment are purchased. The functional structure of the library is reorganized. There is a single spot of document lending regardless of their storage location as well as free access room where the most valuable and up-to-date publications are presented. Since 2003 the head of the RSML has been V.N. Soroko.
One of the important fields of work in the RSML is non-budgetary activity. According to the current legislation of the Republic of Belarus and rules of the RSML non-budgetary financial resources include: providing library and information services on a fee-paying basis, publishing and printing services, sponsor support, leasing services. Non-budgetary profit constitutes 1/3 the budgetary funding.
Printing and publishing licenses as well as separate printing complex make it possible to provide the following services: issuance of science, reference and advertising publications; literary and technical editing, artistic design; preparing and copying small editions, printed blanks and presentation products, CD-ROM electronic databases. Since 2005 the RSML has been the member of Consortium of medical libraries in Russian and Belarus that aimed at carrying out the projects “Central catalogue of medical periodicals and analytics” and “Medical authoritative file “Health professionals in Russia” (with constituent part “Health professionals in Belarus”).
In 2006 according to the order of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus № 640 of 31.10.2005 Museum of History of Belarusian medicine became part of the library. The museum houses the exposition illustrating main periods of development of medicine in Belarus. It includes models, maquettes, dioramas, natural interior scenes and copies of unique documents. The RSML is a methodical and coordinating centre of 152 medical and hospital libraries in the republic including 112 libraries of medical preventive institutions, 21 libraries of medical universities and colleges, 10 libraries of republican scientific and practical centres and 8 libraries of health resort institutions.
In 2005-2007 the first stage of the project “Creating a system of free access to national and international information resources in the RSML” was successfully carried out. The sponsor of the project was Danish pharmaceutical company “Novo Nordisk A/S”, which has been our friend for 10 years. As a result of project implementation there were established 9 modern points of access to global and national information resources. Now our users have free access to more than 25 international databases that reflect the global flow of medical information, including Russia and CIS countries; the access to Medical Library database of Proquest corporation, which contains full texts of 700 international journals on medicine and health care with deep retrospection and weekly (on-line access) and quarterly updates. Our users can order documents from the world’s leading information centers on medicine and health care using telecommunications. Today RSML is the biggest information center on medicine and health care in Belarus. The library serves as national repository and republican depository of medical literature, interlibrary and international loan system, scientific-methodical and coordination center for medical libraries. The library work is aimed at formation and storage of information resources, satisfaction of needs of health care specialists and assistance in conducting of scientific research. In particular, the library, supported by the Ministry of Health, exploits medical scientific Internet portal MED.BY, which consists of 3 sites:“ Health care and medicine of Belarus” ;
Online directory “Health care of Belarus” ;
All-day information service on availability of medical goods in the drugstores of Minsk .
On the base of MED.BY portal resources the RSML releases a reference catalog “Health care of Belarus. Establishments, services and goods. Who is who”, which has been a desk book for health care managers and specialists, authorities and citizens of Belarus and other countries for many years.
The library releases scientific, referential and advertising publications, including electronic variants; makes literary and technical editing, art design, preparation and copy-making of limited circulation materials, forms and presentation products.
More than 80 specialists work in the library. There are 12 departments:
General information about the RSML
National Library of Belarus
The Presidential Library of the Republic of Belarus
Republican Scientific and Technical Library of Belarus
- Acquisition department
- Cataloging department
- Department of inquires and legal information
- Department of electronic information resources
- Service department
- Document storage department
- Library and information technologies department
- Department library and information technology
- Printing department
- Museum of history of Belarusian medicine
- General service department