National Library of Medicine Seeks User Data from Social Media

Sage Ross/Wikipedia Commons

Officials want to know how people use data during emergencies and push information more effectively.

The National Library of Medicine wants to mine social media to learn how people are using its services and how it can make those services better, solicitation documents show.

The library plans to contract for a system to mine Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, discussion boards [and] video and image sharing sites to determine how health-related emergencies such as a West Nile virus outbreaks affect how people use library resources, according to a request for quotation posted Monday.

The system should also help identify urgent information the library should push to the public during emergencies, the solicitation said.

The contractor also should identify how often library resources are mentioned on social media compared to other health information resources and provide demographic information about the people doing the mentioning.

A separate section of the contract focuses on mining social media to evaluate how library resources are being used by doctors and research scientists. That includes searching social media for citations to scientific papers available through library databases and assessing how the volume of those citations changes when the library modifies database design features.

The contractor will have one year to deliver the system once the contract is finalized, the library said.

The National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest free biomedical library housed within the National Institutes of Health. The library has made numerous forays into new media in the past, including building mobile apps that teach students about embryo development and give lactating mothers information about dangerous drugs