- Literature Information and Medical and Health Information Service
- No.12, p.57-70
It was only very recent that overall planning of a nation-wide medical and health information service system in Japan was started.
At the beginning, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry were trying to develop their own plan separately. Although the improvement of regional medical and health services was the final goal for both of them, the former placed their emphasis on contents of information itself, while the latter concentrated their effort on developing a computerized system and machines which can be used in medical and health information services.
In July 1974, a new non-profit organization, the Medical Information System Development Center, was established by these two ministries, aiming to achieve their mutual goal of developing information systems in medical and health fields. However, the information service network based on literature which should be a basic part of the overall medical and health information service has not been given due attention by both of the ministries' preliminary studies for the plan.
The same negligence of literature, information in other many social activities is often observed. Social systems are getting to be more complexed than ever, and need of various information for decision making in daily activities is increasing. For such decision making, literature information may not be used at all. Thus, it is losing its share in whole information activities.
Librarians are not fully aware of this change of outside world.
They should pay more of their attention to such a fundamental question as what the role of literature in information activities of social systems, for instance, medical care, is, and what kind of information can be obtained from literature.
Even though the share of literature in information activities is lessening, its annual product has been and is still increasing with an exponential rate. And the demand for particular information such as numerical data, whether it is from literature or not, is increasing along with the need for information through other media such as telephone, radio, television, video tapes, audio tapes, magnetic tapes, etc.
The present situation of literature information activities in Japan is far from satisfactory.
The Japan Medical Library Association, which has the best organized system for literature providing service through its inter library loan service network, does not have any official relationship with information centers such as the Japan Information Center of Science and Technolgy (JICST), the International Medical Information Center, Inc. (IMIC), the Japan Pharmaceutical Information Center (JAPIC), and the Medical Information System Development Center. And these information centers do not have a service network to link their activities yet.
Unless the situation is improved without much delay, medical and health service in Japan will lack the basic system of upgrading its service's quality. And meanwhile medical librarians in this country will be a mere custodian of books again.