Section of the
Medical Library Association
Michael Flannery, MLS, MA.
Eclectic legacy: the contributions of early American botanical literature to modern complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
Question: What is, and what is the significance of the American botanical medical movement for today's CAM?
Design: This paper will answer this question through a review the historical literature of American medical botany that began with Samuel Thomson in 1790, developed into physio-medicalism, expanded with eclecticism, and finally coalesced in the 20th century into naturopathy. An assessment of each group will be made relative to its significant materia medica and dispensatory literature and the legacies each left to the current botanical renaissance as witnessed in the re-investigation of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities of care.
Methods: Care will be taken to present a balanced and objective review of these botanical schools both within the contexts of their times as well as the benchmarks of modern medical paradigms and sound methodolies.
The presentation will be supplemented with an annotated bibliography and practical advice on building a basic but useful and affordable reference collection of historical literature in medical botany.
Conclusion: The various compendia of the American botanical medical movement can provide insights and tools for the current CAM researcher.
David J. Owen, MLS, Ph.D.
And Here's To You, Mrs. Grieve: Thyme To Revisit Those Old Herbal Books
The resurgence of interest in medicinal herbs presents some interesting problems for the information professional since there is still a paucity of information in the mainstream scientific and medical literature. Many librarians and health professionals are now learning, however, that there is a large untapped pool of herbal information in their Rare Books and Special Collections department. Though often dismissed as being out-of-date and inaccurate by mainstream physicians, several U.S. herbal texts from the 19th and early twentieth century are being rediscovered as useful sources of information on medicinal herbs. Some of them are still widely used as sources of information by the more "traditional herbalists." For example, Maud Grieve's A Modern Herbal, first published in the 1930's, has not only been reprinted, and is now widely available, but is available as a full-text document on the Internet. Even Nicholas Culpepper's 1649 The Complete Herbal, combining herbalism with astrology, has been reprinted and is attracting renewed attention from herbal practitioners. This paper surveys those works considered to be classic herb texts that are now enjoying renewed attention as a source of information about herbs and herbal therapies.
Pamela M. Rose, MLS
Beautiful Botanicals: Nature's Original Healing "Art"
Purpose: This paper will discuss the use of 19th century illustrations of botanicals as Art to both beautify and increase usage of the public areas of the Library and to make fragile historical resources on medicinal herbs housed in our History of Medicine Collection more widely known and available.
Setting/Participants/Resources: The Health Sciences Library (HSL), University at Buffalo (UB) is a large, regional health sciences library residing on an urban campus. The Art in the Library Task Force, charged to develop ways to beautiful and increase usage of public library areas by adding art works to the decor, recommended a pilot project to not only fulfill its charge, but also to make fragile resources on medicinal plants contained within the Robert L. Brown History of medicine Collection known and available to a much larger audience.
Brief Description: The pilot project was designed to take advantage of existing resources in the History collection combined with the skills of the Task Force members, which included staff from both the Library and a graphic arts department. The Task Force not only fulfilled its charge of beautifying public areas of the Library, but was also able to both promote and make available to a wider audience valuable historical botanical works, and produce notecards and prints whose sales would support future art projects.
Results/Outcome: This ongoing project has attracted interest from local, regional, and national constituents through promotional announcements via discussion lists offering descriptions of the exhibit and information on purchasing the notecards and prints, through media coverage in local publications, and the Exhibits web site. The pilot project was worthy enough to be supported by the Friends of the Library and the local medical historical society.
Evaluation Method: The exhibit area which was renovated for the 19th century botanicals display has become one of the most heavily used study spaces in the Library, a testament to the improved aesthetics of the area. In addition, sales from the first limited edition set of notecards and prints were so successful that a second limited edition set was just produced.
Julia S. Whelan, M.S. & Lana Dvorkin, PharmD
Plants from many healing landscapes: herbal medicines used by diverse cultures
Question: How can librarians find information, on the herbs used in ethnic medicine supporting our clinicians providing culturally competent care?
Setting: In a multicultural society, clinicians need to be aware of the herbal healing traditions of a diverse patient population. Cultural competence initiatives emphasize the importance of this objective. Simultaneously, the increasing popularity of complementary and alternative therapies means that clinicians need evidence based information on the herbal supplements taken by all patients. This presentation will cover information resources available to address topics at the intersection of these mandates.
Method: A survey of the relevant background literature will introduce a series of case studies. Examples will illustrate how patient related questions can be answered using current information resources. Coverage will include both print and electronic information resources. Titles will be selected from the subject areas of herbal medicine, pharmacognosy, medical anthropology, cross cultural studies and ethnobotany.
Main results: A brief background history of relevant 20th century books and authors will look at the fields of ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, and medical anthropology. Following this, the cases discussed will represent the use of herbs in major cultural healing practices such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayuerveda, Hispanic/Caribbean cultures, Native American and Russian practices. Information resources discussed will include books such as The Healing Forest (Richard Shultes), Chinese herbs in the Western clinic (Andrew Gaeddert); databases such as the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Embase, IPA, and Medline; web sites such as Botanical.com, Native American Ethnobotany Database, International Directory for Botany, and more. A representative case will focus on a Dominican child with asthma who comes to clinic. His mother treats him with a preparation called “siete jarabes”. The librarian assists medical staff in identifying the ingredients of this preparation and follows up with information on the safety, efficacy, and potential interactions.
Conclusion: Librarians can offer information to clinicians caring for patients who are taking herbs used in diverse healing traditions. They can integrate herbal information into their information services and work to increase its accessibility and to identify and fill information gaps.
Bruce E. Madge, ALA, DHMSA
Elizabeth Blackwell - the forgotten herbalist?
Methodology: Historical case study and literature review.
Resources: Using the collections of the British Library, this article will look at her life and work, at the circumstances surrounding production of the herbal, her influences and sources used, including the people who recommended production of the book to the Society of Apothecaries and some of the current projects to put her name back on the map. Brief Description: although Elizabeth Blackwell is not as well known in the history of medicine as her namesake who lived 100 years later, she was the first woman to produce a herbal, engraving and painting all the illustrations herself. Her reason for doing this was to free her husband from debtors prison whereupon he sold the copyright to her books and was finally executed for treason in Sweden. The more scholarly works on botany, particularly that of William Blunt, dismiss her contribution to botany as not particularly scientific but her achievement in making an illustrated list of medicinal plants available to the medical profession and gaining the support of noteworthy patrons such as Sir Hans Sloane and Dr Richard Mead was indeed a major accomplishment Outcome: This study has led to the author receiving his Diploma in the History of Medicine, the National Library of Medicine using British Library technology to produce a digital version of the Herbal and a new book on Elizabeth Blackwell to be published later this year. Conclusion: Elizabeth Blackwell, the herbalist, has been largely ignored by the medical profession and underestimated by botanists. This work has led to a greater knowledge and appreciation of her outstanding accomplishment in producing a medical text which was supported by the medical establishment of the time.
Mila Pollock, MLS
Planning an exhibit for the 50th anniversary of the structure of DNA
Purpose: To present the preparation involved in planning of an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA. The exhibit reveals the story of the important role of New York foundations, institutions and scientists, which in the decade of 1943-53 identified DNA as the hereditary material, analyzed it, and created a world-wide network of researchers who focused on it.
Setting/Participants/Resources: Our exhibition, Seeking the Secret of Life: DNA in NY, which opens in February, 2003 at a scientific public library, an ideal location, as it receives as many as 1,500 visitors daily and is located in the heart of the city. The 800 square foot exhibit will include an array of historical photographs, documents, and objects from the collections of two prominent scientific institutions.
Description: The Director of Libraries and Archives decided to show the significant scientific contributions of two New York institutions prior to the discovery of the double helix by Watson and Crick. As the work progressed, we realized that this idea would be an excellent opportunity to educate with the use of old and new technology and its interaction. Today in a modern Library it is suitable to combine the exhibit of archival documents and photographs with lectures and hands-on learning with the use of the computer. With multiple tasks the project team has increased and we are able to carry out an exhibition of this scientific topic on a much broader level. One of the co-discoverers of the double helix, is the consultant for this project. Our team includes librarians, science writers, exhibition designer, and webmasters.
Outcome: This project is evolving into a major educational tool for disseminating information on the history of genetics and, in particular, on its breakthrough discovery which impacts on the genetic knowledge that influences everyday life in the 21st century.
Margaret Vugrin & Richard C. Wood, M.L.S.
From realia to visual virtuality
Purpose: This presentation highlights the development of photographing realia, graphic design of a dvertising brochure and poster, and the beginnings of a virtual collection of medical and pharmacy realia at an academic medical center library.
Settings/Participants/Resources: This library was endowed with a significant collection of medical and pharmacy realia. Having a librarian/photographer/graphic designer on staff enabled us to professionally photograph, design and create advertising materials for this collection. The required photographic, electronic and institutional resources will be discussed.
Brief Description: The library decided to create a virtual and actual exhibit. The process of creating visual (professional photographs), informative (designing and printing a brochure and poster) and electronic (development of the virtual collection) materials will be discussed.
Results/Outcome: This project has generated increased foot-traffic, especially after the dedication ceremony. Media covered the event and the institution's external magazine will cover the donor and the library's new collection. Requests for speaking engagements have been received by the director as well as interest in future consulting work at other medical libraries. A request to exhibit a series of photographs at the Regional Art Center in 2003 has been received.
The classic librarian role is changing. Librarians have always been in the forefront in technology and digital information. This project and the enthusiasm it has generated presents the expansion and evolution of the role of the librarian using visual technologies to enhance the mission of the library.
Evaluation Method: Visually, new people are coming to the library. Gate counts have increased; once the virtual site is completed there will be a better idea of actual generated interest. The requests for speaking engagements, consulting work and exhibiting are testaments to the fact that the library has entered a new role as well, that of demonstrating the living history of the healthcare profession.
Transforming a Medical Library into a Treasure Island for K-12 Teachers
Exhibitions at a medical library offer excellent multidisciplinary, experiential learning opportunities for K-12 students and teachers. However, the stereotype of a medical library in the minds of many?as if there hangs a sign ?Doctors & Researchers Only? ?makes the treasures we dive for and put into an exhibition obscure to most K-12 teachers. How do we transform a medical library for a few?a remote island?into a Treasure Island in their minds? How do we make rich education opportunities in our physical and online exhibitions explicit to the teachers? And why should we?
The Exhibition Program at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is learning from K-12 teachers and helping them use its exhibitions and resources as dynamic and world-class educational tools. Over a dozen local schools now bring their classes into the Library?s exhibitions. And national student organizations such as National Student Leadership Council and National Native American Youth visit us annually. Transforming the National Library of Medicine into a teacher?s Treasure Island has required an understanding of the differences between the two communities?a medical library and schools?and building bridges toward the teaching community whose culture, language, policies and politics are quite distinct from our own. The lessons learned and effective strategies in bridging into the teaching community will be discussed.
Rebecca L. Fisher, MLIS, & Taeyeol Park, PhD
The Library's Legacy: A Virtual History Room
Purpose: This paper will explain the process of digitizing selected pieces from the library's History Room Collection as part of an effort to make rare items more accessible to library constituencies for scholarly and informational purposes. Setting/Participants/Resources: The library is the grateful custodian of many rare medical books, antique medical instruments, portraiture, and the papers and personal effects of prominent physicians. While staffing challenges make access to the History Room "by request only," a virtual display provides unlimited access to selected pieces via the Internet and attests to the School of Medicine's long history and rich tradition of medical excellence. Brief Description: In July 2000, ties between the School of Medicine and the Hospital were affected by the sale of the Hospital to a non-profit, community-based healthcare organization. Concerns about the preservation of the School of Medicine's traditions and legacy emerged. At a time when a show of unity was most crucial to the entire organization's well-being, the Library began the process of digitizing - in captioned photographs and narrated short video clips - the treasures of the History Room Collection. Some of the items chosen for inclusion were antique medical instruments that had to be researched in order to be identified and properly displayed. After a serious, damaging flood in August, 2001, many of the items in the Collection underwent a process of refurbishment and restoration. Results/Outcome: This ongoing project has attracted interest from many library patrons, Medical Center affiliates, and the general public, instilling a sense of pride and unity as it evolves. Evaluation Method: We use an email form to track visitors' comments and suggestions about the site.
Young Rhee, MLS
Treasures on the Web
The Internet age is transforming and broadening the mission of libraries by providing Web access to library collections. Web technology allows treasures in the stacks to come alive for a world audience on the Internet: no longer a special collection for special audiences. Via the Web, the library reaches out to new audiences by providing easy, interpretative, and visually interesting access to special collections. This presentation highlights the National Library of Medicine’s online exhibitions and digital projects. Online exhibitions include Dream Anatomy, Frankenstein, and Breath of Life from the Library’s major exhibitions and Greek Medicine, Classics of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Elizabeth Blackwell, and others. The Library’s digital projects include Islamic Medical Manuscripts at the NLM and Historical Anatomies on the Web which is a work in progress.