This collections track project is expanding the prototype of the Health Education Assets Library (Heal Central), created in 2000 with funding by the NSF's National Science Digital Library (NSDL) program. The mission of Heal Central is to become the premier digital library of health science education resources supporting all levels of teaching, including K-12, undergraduate, professional health science education as well as patient and consumer education. The foundation upon which the Heal Central digital library is built includes a metadata schema for health science educational materials, a test collection of multimedia, and a suite of applications for searching, and contributing educational resources. In addition, partnerships with two health science institutions have been forged: the National Library of Medicine and the Association of American Medical colleges, both of which strongly support Heal Central's mission. These partnerships have facilitated the formation of a rapidly growing network of institutions that have expressed interest in collaborating with HEAL-either by donating teaching resources to the HEAL collection or by allowing bridges to their collections. Also, HEAL is conducting a national study to identify the obstacles that would need to be removed in order to foster a climate of free exchange of educational tools. The outcomes of this study are instrumental in articulating a collection development strategy and strongly suggest the adoption of a peer-review process.
Heal Central is dramatically increasing the number of teaching resources that can be accessed through Heal Central, while at the same time adhering to strict quality assurance principles. Specifically, the project is providing: 1) access to tens of thousands of resources through incorporation of existing collections as well as building bridges to specialized libraries of health sciences materials; 2) customized interfaces for specific health science education constituencies (teachers, students and life-long learners); 3) a process assuring the high quality of the materials (including peer review) and compliance with Federal regulations; 4) tight integration within the NSDL by adopting Core Integration (CI) services, such as metadata harvesting, and by collaborating with other life science collections; and 5) a plan for continuing growth and sustenance of Heal Central. With Heal Central expanded to a full-fledged library, health science teachers and learners can access learning-teaching materials through one powerful search utility and at the same time judge their quality and usability.