April 2023 NYAM Library Wrap-Up

by Anthony Murisco, Public Engagement Librarian

It’s not an April Fools that we’ve been busy this month—busy on social media, that is!

April is National Poetry Month. In 1996, the Academy of American Poets started the celebration to honor the underdog genre of literature. Each Wednesday we went through Charles G. Farnum’s poetry in Medicine Could Be Verse: Humorous Poems Mainly About the Profession. Specifically, we looked at the poems that dealt with the feelings of being ill. With the warmer springtime weather in New York City this month, perhaps “Hay Fever” proved too topical.

The first week of April, we celebrated National Public Health Week. Defined by the American Public Association, public health is “the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work, and play.” Each weekday brought about a new tip on how to keep yourself and your communities healthy.

Tip 1: Check in with your own physical health.
Tip 2: Focus on your mental health

From Health and Happy Days by Grace T. Hallock (1954).

Tip 3: Stay up to date with your immunizations.

Scan of the pamphlet Recommended Procedures for Immunization put out by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Tip 4: Stay active!
Tip 5: Don’t forget to rest.

A view of lakeside living from The Lakeside Haven of Rest guide.

Leading up to Earth Day on 4/22, we celebrated our home planet with books focusing on Jurassic geology, the importance of turtles, and even a 16th century love-letter to the mountains. We shone a spotlight on one of the formative pieces of literature in the Earth Day movement, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. She wrote about the toxic effects of pesticides on our whole planet. Deemed controversial for the time, her findings led to an environmental revolution.

A scan of the first chapter of Silent Spring with artwork by Louis and Lois Darling.

The last week of April coincided with National Library Week. We looked at a book advocating the freedom to read in prison, a classic image of our library and librarians from circa 1956,  and a 1911 map of the libraries of Manhattan.

A map showcasing all of the libraries in the borough of Manhattan, circa 1911.

If you’d like to engage more with our library collection, and see all the images in these series, follow us! The New York Academy of Medicine Library can be found online over at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

We also offer tours on the first Monday of every month at 12pm, no appointment necessary! For this and further opportunities to visit, please check this blog and our social media.

FIT Visits the NYAM Library

By Dr. Evelyn Rynkiewicz, Assistant Professor of Ecology,. Department of Science and Mathematics at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York.

My name is Dr. Evelyn Rynkiewicz, I am a professor of ecology at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I teach a course there called “Disease Ecology in a Changing World,” and my background and research is in disease ecology of coinfecting parasites in mice. I wanted to present a course like this for FIT students because diseases are something that affect all of us, everyone has experience being sick, and because emerging infectious diseases are a growing global issue (even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which is of course still impacting us). The challenge in teaching science courses at FIT is that our students mainly have majors in the design and business fields, not in the sciences, so I try to make the course material relate to their backgrounds and experiences as much as possible, to make the content more relevant to them. I also want to increase science literacy in my students, making them comfortable reading, understanding, and talking about science in their personal and professional lives.

I learned about the New York Academy of Medicine Library after seeing the “Germ City” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. I got in contact with the Historical Collections Librarian, Arlene Shaner, who set up a visit to show me some of the materials she thought would relate to my course. I was blown away! I knew my students would love to see these historical documents. These materials highlight not only the art and history of how scientists and the public interacted with diseases through time, but also show how intertwined social, economic, and political issues are with how society’s experiences of disease.

Our class took a field trip to the NYAM Library and was shown an array of material; from Hooke’s book on microscopy, Edward Jenner’s work describing his development of the first vaccine, to posters and leaflets used from WWII to the present day to inform people about diseases such as malaria, HIV, or tuberculosis. I am always excited to see what students find interesting from this visit. Many enjoyed seeing the graphic design and illustrations used in the posters, such as those by Dr. Seuss and Keith Haring. Others picked up on how women and marginalized groups were often those who did a lot of the work caring for sick and infected people. Some just liked seeing the historical materials related to New York and being able to see how their home was impacted by diseases in the past.

One of the main assessments for the course is a creative research project where students choose a disease to study and then make a presentation with something creative related to that disease that would help someone learn more about it. I encourage the students to think about how they could use their skills learned from their major and apply it to this topic. The field trip to the NYAM Library provides the initial inspiration for this. I am always so proud and surprised at what they come up with!

Here are some of the things they created:

A drawn movie poster. The fake film is called Dengue Island. The artist, Arriana Tan is credited as the filmmaker. A drawing of a giant  brown mosquito hovers over a small community.

Arriana Tran, a Fashion Business Management major, created a movie poster. Inspired by the warnings her parents shared with her on the risk of becoming infected with Dengue in her parent’s home country of the Philippines.

A malaria testing and monitoring kit. The left of the image is the packaging mock-up. The right lists what would be included; an insect net, spray, educational material, and the tests. It also gives ordering instructions.

Packaging Design major Ethan Wolfsberg designed a malaria testing and monitoring kit that would be able to be used in remote areas that are heavily impacted by this disease. A real-life version would be made in languages appropriate for the area. 

An image of a globe surrounded by various people of different color, size, and shape. On the globe is says "PrEP."

To reduce the stigma of taking PreP, Francis Lavery, also a Fashion Business Management major, made an image that emphasizes that this treatment is appropriate for everyone.

A paper doll. The bald character is wearing a green shirt and blue pants.

Illustration major Leia Garrette wanted to visually show how infection with the agent of Lyme Disease impacts all parts of the body. She created a paper doll where each layer illustrated a different system (e.g. muscles, nervous system) accompanied by an explanation of how each is affected by the infection.

A flyer that reads "Spread Help, Not Disease!" it talks about a theoretical Zika virus support group.

This flyer was created by Sarah Sepulveda from Fashion Business Management. Her plan was for a support group for parents worried about or impacted by Zika virus. There was a focus on Brazil where the outbreak was especially significant in 2016.

Once again, a huge thanks to Arlene and the others at NYAM for their help and insight. I look forward to more collaboration!