Friday, June 01, 2007

New exhibit: Anatomy at the Bleeding Edge

As an homage to the Body Worlds exhibit opening June 6 at OMSI, we have just today installed a new Main Library display: Anatomy at the Bleeding Edge. As usual, the exhibit brings together materials from our historical image, book, and museum collections, this time to highlight the history of anatomy and anatomical teaching at OHSU.

Notable items include:
  • Reconstitutable human aorta (see an image here)
  • Plasticized human heart and coronary artery structure
  • The Bourgery Atlas
  • Da Vinci drawings
  • Sketches from the Clarice Ashworth Francone Collection (Guide available here)
  • Images from Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica

The photograph included here shows David W.E. Baird, later Dean of the University of Oregon Medical School, instructing medical students in anatomy in 1924.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Joint Statement on Access to Original Research Materials

I will be attending the RBMS Preconference in Baltimore next month, but since I won't be staying for the annual ALA conference, I thought I would take the opportunity now to make some comments on the draft revisions to the ACRL-SAA Joint Statement on Access to Original Research Materials which has been circulated in advance of the public meeting to be held Saturday June 23, Washington Convention Center, Room 147B, 4:00-5:30 pm.

As a point of reference, the 1994 Statement is available from the ACRL website here.

While some of the wording has been reworked to be clearer or more concise, the bulk of the 2007 draft document remains the same in spirit. The two new items I noticed were both related in some way to what I'll call "researcher relations": one is a new stipulation that repositories "should also instruct researchers in proper handling of fragile materials" and the other is an expanded section on Publicity, moved from the number three slot to number two on the list.

On handling fragile materials: an excellent addition. Certainly, we can no longer expect that researchers who come to use special materials have had previous training in handling of library materials in bibliographic instruction classes (if, indeed, we could ever really have expected that). If they don't know the proper way to approach fragile materials, can we blame them for causing inadvertent damage? And if the Statement requires repository staff to provide this training, it is a welcome admission that special collections staff themselves should know how to handle these materials. (British Library embarrassment, anyone?)

On Publicity: an exciting upgrade! As some of you may have noticed, I love to crow about the latest whatever we've received, whether or not it's going to be physically accessible today, tomorrow, or a year from now. Patrons are our reason for existence, and repositories that cannot see the benefits of publicity are doomed to extinction.

On the Statement: although the sentiments conveyed by this document may seem obvious to those of us who work in special collections, I can personally attest to its usefulness and necessity. Shortly before I began work here in August 2003, new policies and procedures were being written for the Historical Collections & Archives. At that time, well-meaning library staff members suggested that we charge researchers for access. Our archivist, who had come on the scene here just a few months prior, mounted a stand against this tactic on the basis of professional ethics. The Statement is a critical tool for special collections staff everywhere who seek help in explaining the ethics of equal access. If you work in a special collections setting--whether as a staff member or as a researcher--you'll benefit from reading this document.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More gems from recent donation

We haven't yet begun to really scratch the surface of the 42 boxes of material donated by University News & Publications a few weeks ago; no sense getting knee-deep into it until we resupply with some critically needed processing supplies. Today, however I did dig out the folders on former Medical School Dean Dr. David W.E. Baird, to have something to work through while listening to oral history interviews (ah! multitasking!).

Along with about a four-inch pile of glossy photos of Baird, colleagues, and community personages, the folders contained a memo from the Office of Public Affairs, dated August 13, 1962:
Notes gathered while accumulating background information for the profile on Dr. Baird which appeared in the June 1962 issue of WHAT'S GOING ON? The following anecdotes and rambling notations may be helpful at some future date when a new and more personal story of Dr. Baird is done.
Five typescript pages follow.

Also included is a copy of a letter to Baird from then Governor Mark Hatfield, dated April 19, 1965, on the occasion of Baird's acceptance of the Edith Knight Hill Award from the Salem Theta Chapter of Sigma Phi. It reads, in part:
The tribute you now receive comes not from the profession of which you are a member, nor a related one such as nursing, but from the keepers of the public conscience--the Fourth Estate.
Here are ladies who are steeped in the ability to analyze, to strip away the fluff, to appraise public service for its depth and scope. To be honored by them with the Edith Knight Hill award is an achievement of the highest order....
Nor has your lot been an easy one, taking an idea here and a thought there, and putting them over through quiet, persistent persuasion against supreme odds of opposition and lethargy. But goals too easily attained frequently fade with time. Yours is a lasting monument to faith, leadership, and a consuming concern with your fellow man.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hawthorne Memorial Library

Last Friday, in addition to receiving the small collection of Saslow Papers from the Department of Psychiatry here, I also had the distinct pleasure of seeing the department's Hawthorne Memorial Library, a small but richly appointed room just inside the main entrance doors of Multnomah Pavilion (originally the front entrance to the Multnomah County Hospital, 1920s-1970s).

The Library, dedicated in 2002, honors James C. Hawthorne, the state's first psychiatrist and founder of the Oregon Hospital for the Insane. Namesake of a major Portland thoroughfare and one of the bridges connecting west Portland to east Portland over the mighty Willamette River, Hawthorne came to Oregon in 1857 and began care of patients at the Multnomah County Hospital the following year. On the occasion of his death in 1881, Simeon Josephi--fellow psychiatrist and soon-to-be dean of the University of Oregon Medical School--wrote:
The sad news of his death cast a gloom over the community, and was felt throughout the State as the announcement of a public calamity. I was associated with the Doctor for a period of fourteen years, and in his death I feel that I have lost one of the strongest links that bind me to life.
For more information on Hawthorne and psychiatry in Oregon, you might want to start with the short history on the department's website, or the one on the website for the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The Hawthorne Library itself is quite lovely: a Persian carpet covers the floor and brown leather chairs and sofa offer respite for the weary scholar. An original settee from Hawthorne's home compliments the sturdier furniture. The original bell from the Oregon Hospital for the Insane (which is all that remained after a fire destroyed the building in 1886) rests on a small table; large oil portraits of Hawthorne and his wife look down on visitors. An oil painting showing the hospital hangs next to an antique book cabinet holding several rare and valuable titles. On two of the walls a timeline of psychiatry in Oregon unfolds, and above it hang the photographs of past department chairs. If you have an opportunity to visit the library, I highly recommend it; requests to open the room for special visits need to be made through the Dept. of Psychiatry.