Friday, May 04, 2007

Expected deliveries

Just because you know something is coming doesn't make it less exciting when it happens (are you with me, new parents?). Today we have received both the set of collected papers of E.H. Angle and the piece of equipment that was supposed to come yesterday. These two items represent the extreme ends of the donation spectrum around here (rare books to medical museum), and are both great additions to the collections.

The Angle set arrived in perfect condition from the Society, along with a reprint of Angle's "First edition" (1887) of his text, which the Society published a couple of years ago. It's been almost a year since we had an addition to the History of Dentistry Collection; hopefully this donation will be the catalyst for a renewed interest in the dental history materials.

The new equipment is a Vanguard XR-35 projector for 35mm films. It's a little frightening, to tell the truth: it has warning signs reading "Possible explosion hazard", "intense light hazard", and "serious burns or fire may result from close proximity to the area in front of the snood." Shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, though, right? This projector is actually very much appreciated--and needed, primarily to view all the 35mm films contained in the Melvin P. Judkins Collection.

We're becoming quite the little technology museum here, with our lantern slide projector, 35mm slide projector, audiocassette and videocassette tape players. Soon, we'll need to start consulting with a history of technology expert!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Archival acquisitions

Today has been a busy day--in the good, out-of-the-blue, long-awaited or totally unforeseen sort of a way. We had a long-expected donation of a piece of equipment lined up for delivery today, but the vehicle transporting it broke down--so, we wait. We also received a completely unexpected offer of a very significant collection of personal papers--which, if we do wind up getting them, you'll be hearing a lot more about. But in the process of discussing our collections with the (potential) donor of the personal papers, our acquisitions strategy was, well, attacked. Currently, our policy is not to solicit materials outside of campus: we occasionally write to potential donors about collections, we certainly encourage potential donors who happen to visit the History of Medicine Room, and we are always open to donations that walk in the door unannounced. But we aren't going out to people's homes and actively engaging them in conversations about their collections.

Why? I think it's as simple as 1, 2... That's the number of staff we have: two. We inherited a large backlog of unprocessed collections when we came on board; we also inherited a very small storage area that is quickly filling without any major effort on our part. We've worked with the Records Retention Committee to craft records retention guidelines for OHSU (yes, that's correct, the university has been without a records policy since 1887) and we are actively lobbying for the implementation of the now-completed schedule. We're reaching out to other departments, sending out brochures, mounting exhibits, and doing all sorts of other PR to get the word out. Should we be doing more? Of course, but our first priority right now needs to be the materials already in our care. A solid foundation is a necessity; without it, any acquisitions we make in haste might crumble into an unmanageable jumble, of little use to anyone.

We will get there, we are getting there. History has always rewarded patience.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Photographic commemoration of a print memorial

Today, processing yet more images from the University News & Publications donation we received earlier this year (only three boxes to go!), I came across a contact sheet (without negatives) labeled: 13 Sept 90, Library, SIDS Books Dedicate. Luckily, I work in the Library and so can interpret this cryptic note and add a little information to the sheet.

The special library collection, Oregon Memorial Library for Bereaved Parents, was started in 1990 as a result of a request to provide access to more information on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for parents struggling to cope with their losses. The collection was thus developed as a consumer health-oriented collection focused on SIDS, but it also includes other books on grief and bereavement intended to be used by parents who have lost a young child. It is not separately shelved, but integrated with the general circulating collection in the OHSU Libraries. Titles in this subcollection can be located by searching the catalog for Oregon Memorial Library for Bereaved Parents.

In the photographs from the dedication, librarian Carrie Willman is shown with OHSU faculty members Diana White, PhD, and Joseph Gilhooly, MD, as well as a member of a local SIDS support group. The photos serve as a graphic reminder of the willingness and ability of libraries everywhere to respond to the information needs of their patrons with both skill and compassion.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Father of orthodontics

Our History of Dentistry Collection here in Historical Collections & Archives will soon be graced by the arrival of a monumental new work in the history of orthodontics: the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists has just completed a four-volume set of the edited papers of its namesake, and is donating a copy to the OHSU Library because of the role of our own Dr. Harold Noyes in the deposit of Angle's papers with the group.

Angle, who has been called the "Harvey Cushing of orthodontics," was the first dentist to specialize in and teach orthodontics. Among his students was one Bernhard W. Weinberger, whose own efforts at collecting books on the history of orthodontics are memorialized in the catalog The superb library of Bernhard W. Weinberger, D.D.S., on the history and folklore of dentistry. Like many booksellers' catalogs, this one from the Old Hickory Bookshop is now quite scarce, and we were delighted to be able to send a photocopy of the list to the Angle Society in return for their generous gift.

Once the set has been received and cataloged, it will become an invaluable resource for scholars interested in the development of the field.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Float like a butterfly

On Friday, we received a donation of a truly scarce item: an OHSU tram float pen. These little souvenirs were created for the tram grand opening back in January of this year, along with souvenir posters, hats and T-shirts. While the latter items are still available from the Portland Aerial Tram website, not so the pens--victims of their own popularity, the pens are rapidly disappearing. Luckily, ours will remain available in perpetuity in the archives.