Open letter: Funding and role of ZB Med

By Petra Wallgren Björk | Published: 2016-06-14

PDF version – Open letter: Funding and role of ZB Med


14 June 2016


Addressed to the following organisations and published on the EAHIL website


An alle Mitglieder der Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 38
53113 Bonn


Bundesministerium für Gesundheit
Rochusstr. 1
53123 Bonn


Dr. Michael H. Wappelhorst
Ministerium für Innovation, Wissenschaft und Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen
Abteilung Recht / EU / Forschungsorganisationen
Völklinger Straße 49, 40221 Düsseldorf


Dear Members of the Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskommission, Minister for Health, and Dr Wappelhorst,

I am writing on behalf of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL). EAHIL is an active association uniting librarians and information professionals working in medical and health science libraries in Europe, with approximately 1500 members from 37 European countries. One of our Association’s aims is to contribute to the health and welfare of European citizens by promoting high quality information services in support of health care practice, research, and education throughout Europe.

At the General Assembly of EAHIL on 10 June, 2016, in Seville, Spain, the following statement was approved unopposed by our members:

Medical librarians all over Europe have been shocked and dismayed about the news that funding for the ZB Med will be withdrawn, and the library reduced from its current national and international rôle to that of just a faculty library within three years.

ZB Med is the second largest medical library worldwide after the NLM*, and libraries internationally rely on its document supply service. Much of the collection of ZB Med is not held elsewhere in Europe or elsewhere. Beyond collection building, ZB Med’s search tools provide access to content not indexed anywhere else; and the library supports researchers with publishing advice and an OA publishing platform.

Medical librarians organised in EAHIL recommend that ZB Med should be kept as a national and international service, and that an adequate and stable funding stream should be re-established.

Libraries are not a luxury.  Access to the biomedical knowledge base is increasingly important in supporting the best evidence-based health-care practice and research, but even in this Internet age, good quality information is not simply freely available and remains challenging to find and conserve. I therefore write to urge you to reverse the decision to remove funding, and instead to invest in ZB Med and to demonstrate leadership in shaping the future of biomedical information in Europe and beyond.

Marshall F Dozier

EAHIL President

*National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, USA