BIREME Bulletin n° 85

Brazilian Ministry of Health Library celebrates 70 years: living repository of public health is part of the VHL

“The modern library is much more than the sum of its collections, its staff, its equipment, and its building. It is the sum of the intellectual achievements of mankind in recent years, preserved in living form for its use.”

Marietta Daniels Shepard, Library Development Program of the Organization of American States. Journal of Biblioteconomy of Brasilia, vol.1, n. 2, 1973.


In the year in which it completes 70 years of activities, the Library of the Ministry of Health (MS) of Brazil has its trajectory recognized and celebrated also by the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (BIREME/PAHO/WHO). Over the course of seven decades, the institution has consolidated and kept up to date its mission of preserving, articulating and putting to use the knowledge produced in the period in the area of public health.

Since 2001, with BIREME’s support, the Library has published its collections on the Internet and has been part of the VHL Network ever since, as an institutional body of the Ministry of Health. As an institutional supporter, the progress made by the Library is also recognized by BIREME, proud of the results of the projects developed in technical cooperation, especially the instance of the Virtual Health Library of the Ministry of Health (VHL MS).

Verônica Abdala, manager of information products and services at BIREME, highlights the important work of BIREME with the Ministry of Health for the development of the VHL MS centered on an information management framework to gather, organize and disseminate the scientific and technical production of the Ministry of Health in an online virtual environment, including the resource of integrated research and access to data and full texts. The VHL MS celebrated 20 years with celebrations in August 2021, with the holding of an online commemorative event and the launch of the Window of Knowledge ‘History of the Natural of COVID-19.

Librarian Marcos Mori, BIREME’s Development Supervisor, recalls that the Center “has always supported the MS Library, since we installed the ABCD library automation system, integrated with LILDBI-WEB, also offering technical support until the current moment when they are in transition to the SOPHIA System and we are normalizing and making available all the data from ABCD-WEB to the SOPHIA system”.

This trajectory has also been recognised by the efforts of the staff of the General Coordination of Development and Information of the Undersecretariat for Administrative Affairs of the Executive Secretariat of the Ministry of Health (CGDI/SAA/SE, in Portuguese) in their management of technical cooperation over the years. Eliane Santos, currently Advisor on Knowledge Management and Networks in the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health at PAHO/WHO, to which the Centre is institutionally linked, recognizes the years of cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the Organization, and recalls the period for its commitment to “access to information and knowledge as a public policy, for the inclusion of this theme in the pillars of the Unified Health System (SUS), for ensuring that the VHL as a model had national repercussions and for the commitment to preserving information, in its cultural and social approach and for the capacity to create networks and exchange experiences at national, regional and global levels”, she highlights.

For João Paulo Souza, Director of BIREME, we are living in an important moment for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the MS Library, with the new needs imposed by technology and the common goal of institutions to promote the use of health information, also trying to face the problem of misinformation. “It is an important center for the dissemination of health information in our Region, and it has the support and collaboration with BIREME. Let’s go to the Ministry of Health Library and BIREME to continue together in the mission of facilitating access to and use of scientific information for health”, celebrates the Director.

Photo: Julia Prado/MoH.

Check out some of the main products and services of the MS do Brasil Library below.

Collection: organized collection of publications produced by the areas of the MoH, related bodies and commercial publishers; reference works for local consultation (dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, manuals, guides, yearbooks, etc.); periodicals (newspapers, bulletins, technical-scientific or informative magazines); iconographic and audiovisual materials; and digital publications.

VHL MS: launched in 2001, it provides access to bibliographic and full-text databases of the physical and digital collection of books, booklets, manuals, magazines, posters, folders, policies, national policies, programs, legislation, and other information products.

Borrow / Return / Renewal: anyone can consult the bibliographic collection in, or in person, in a consultation mediated by the librarians at the MoH Library’s service desk.

Thematic Bulletins: published quarterly, they disseminate relevant health-related content, establishing strategic communication between the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian population in general, since it is a publication written in simple and plain language, providing important explanations and guidelines, as well as links to other pertinent technical-scientific publications.

Bibliographic commutation: retrieval of information available in restricted databases to provide access to full texts, in order to meet users demands.

Information mediation: service designed to help the user with the assimilation of health information, enhancing the construction of knowledge.

Bibliographic research: bibliographic survey and retrieval of publications, journal articles, etc., on a given subject or author, using the PICO model (Population, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome).

Legislative research: legislative research recovers normative acts in the area of health by consulting official sources and those produced by the areas of the Ministry of Health. It can be done at Saúde Legis.

João Yunes Space: physical space dedicated to reading, study, research and enjoyment of the Library, inaugurated in 2002, and named in honor of the illustrious former Secretary of Health Policies of the Ministry of Health. The space is decorated with a wooden panel by Athos Bulcão, listed by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN) and by the Government of the Federal District. It has a multipurpose room equipped with audiovisual resources for conferences, meetings, video recording and workshops.


Links of interest:

MoH Virtual Health Library Biblioteca Virtual em Saúde (

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