As 2017 draws to a close, it’s customary to look back at the year that was. For us at the Academy Library, that means reflecting on our many exciting events and achievements. As you enjoy this look back at the past year through the eyes of our staff, please consider supporting the Academy Library.
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I will always be awed by the items that are discovered in our vast collections; it is almost as if they are waiting for the right opportunity to reveal themselves. My favorite example of this was when our volunteer, Dr. Sanford Miller, came across what he thinks is a picture of himself on the cover of The Story of Anesthesia by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Dr. Miller, an Anesthesiologist, has been volunteering for the Academy Library for two and a half years and has helped in the processing of thousands of pamphlets. –Allison Piazza, Reference Services and Outreach Librarian
For me, one of the highlights this year was my participation in the “Making the book” project (supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation). My job was to review catalog records for all Johannes de Ketham editions of Fasciculus medicine (an influential medical text) and make necessary changes for increased findability. The most interesting part of this process was a detailed examination of text and plates for each of our five editions and making copy-specific notes. As a result of this work, six original records were created: five for the Ketham’s (1495, 1500, 1509, 1513 and 1522) editions and one for Savonarola’s Practica medicinae (1497), which is bound with Fasciculus medicine, 1500. –Tatyana Pakhladzhyan, Rare Book Cataloger
My favorite project this year was working with the library’s collections of 19th- and early 20th-century medical trade cards to select cards for a Valentine’s Day blog post. Our William H. Helfand Collection of Pharmaceutical Trade Cards is available via our new Library Digital Collections and Exhibits website, and we are working on describing and organizing the Bingham Patent Medicine Collection, a recent bequest of approximately 4,900 trade cards from the estate of Walker Bingham. The images in these cards are delightful, even if the medicines they advertise are of dubious efficacy. –Becky Filner, Head of Cataloging
My favorite event this year was Acquisitions Night on September 26. It was great on a number of levels: seeing the wonderful books that we had acquired in the course of the year, watching as Anne Garner (Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts) and Arlene Shaner (Historical Collections Librarian) explained the finer points of the items, seeing the wonderful reaction that it evoked in our guests, and listening to Scott Devine (Head of Preservation) present on a book he had conserved, bringing out the physical aspect of the book that we often don’t pay enough attention. –Paul Theerman, Associate Director
I look forward every year to the evening class we host in the Rare Book Room for “The Pulse of Art,” a class on the intersection between art and medicine. This class, co-taught by the dynamic duo of the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller (MD and PhD in Art History, respectively), meets one evening in the late Fall to talk visual representations of anatomy. For an hour and a half, we pour over illustrations by the likes of Durer, Vesalius, Gautier d’Agoty and Bernard Albinus. Arlene and I do this together, and inevitably we learn new things about our own collections from the Collers, whose deep knowledge of the history of medicine, illustration processes and art history always make it an unforgettable evening. The energy in the room is electric! –Anne Garner, Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts
After nearly two years of hard work, we launched the Adopt-A-Book program this October. Preparing the adoption of our rare books, secondary sources, and the iconic card catalog gave me all kinds of insights into our collections. I am both thankful and ecstatic that we’ve already had some adoptions. These precious books have become so special to me; it’s great to know other people out there feel the same way. –Emily Miranker, Events and Projects Manager
Among many enclosures I have made so far this year, the boxes for our collection of 17th-century anatomical manikins are the most memorable. I cut and built up Ethafoams and Volara foams so that the trays of manikins would fit perfectly in the boxes. It was challenging, but there was a lot of learning and discussion with other conservation and library staff in the process. Check out our blog post about the manikins and the rehousing! –Yungjin Shin, Collections Care Assistant
This year I am excited about exploring the three- volume set of Indian Medicinal Plants by Kānhobā Raṇachoḍadāsa Kīrtikara (1849-1917). The plates caught my attention, propelling my desire to digitize it. As part of our collaboration with the Biodiversity Heritage Library, we digitized all three volumes and made them available to the public. Digitization can take time, but taking an object off the shelf, digitizing it and making it available to the public is always amazing! –Robin Naughton, Head of Digitial
From all of us at the Academy Library, Happy New Year!