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veritas Harvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1324 March 2005

Countway Library to Establish Center for the History of Medicine

The Francis A. Countway Library's Rare Books and Special Collections department is changing its name effective April 1 to the Center for the History of Medicine. The mission of the center is to promote the study of the history of medicine in order to achieve a better understanding of the complex interaction between medicine and society. The center will carry out its mission by adding to, preserving, and making accessible the Countway's renowned historical library and museum collections and by sponsoring programs that demonstrate the value and usefulness of these collections.

"We are going to embark on several programmatic initiatives over the next several years, and the name change reflects the department's expanding focus," said Thomas Horrocks, PhD, acting codirector of the library. "The name 'Rare Books and Special Collections' informs users of what we own; the name 'Center for the History of Medicine' informs them of what we do."

A wide range of public and scholarly programs are envisioned for the center, including conferences and seminars, exhibits and lectures, fellowships and internships, and publications and web resources. The Countway's rich historical collections, however, constitute the foundation on which the center rests. "The curatorial functions associated with managing such a collection will continue to be a central component to what we do here. By broadening our scope to include innovative and unique programs, we will promote the use of these marvelous collections by demonstrating their relevance to contemporary debates and issues in medicine and health care," Horrocks said. "Furthermore, the programs we offer will introduce the center and its collections to new audiences.We will continue to serve an international scholarly community, but we will also do more to serve the medical community as well as thegeneral public."

The Countway Library, created in 1960 as a result of an alliance between the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical Library, houses one of the world's premier collections in the history of medicine. The Countway's historical collections, consulted by researchers from around the world, comprise more than 250,000 books and journals; 20 million manuscripts; the archives of the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Harvard School of Public Health; 100,000 photographs and prints; and the famous Warren Anatomical Museum.

For further details concerning the Countway's historical library and Warren Museum, including an online exhibit gallery that features a selection of significant collections, visit http://www.countway.harvard.edu/rarebooks; or contact Thomas Horrocks at 2-4142 or thomas_horrocks@hms.harvard.edu.

 

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