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BML President’s Annual Report to Fellows
October 23, 2013


Welcome to the Annual Meeting of the Fellows and thank you all for your support of the Boston Medical Library.

Preservation of our collections and activities in the Center for the History of Medicine have continued as in the previous year, and progress towards our other strategic priorities  remains slow.  Changes in both Harvard Library and Countway leadership and staff along with ongoing reorganization efforts have been major factors.  Thanks to our Director, Dr. Kohane; the CHOM Director, Dr. Podolsky; Countway Director of Access and Public Services, David Osterbur; HMS Executive Dean, Rick Mills; and Countway Director of Administration, John Armstrong for their leadership and not the least, Roz Vogel, the BML administrator. 

Harvard Library and Countway Library Changes

Our partner, Harvard University, restructured the 73 separate Harvard libraries into a more coordinated Harvard Library (HL) under the leadership of Senior Associate Provost for the Harvard Library, Mary Lee Kennedy.  The new arrangement came into being on August 1, 2012.  Three library services are aligned across the libraries into Harvard Library (HL) wide service with staff reporting to the central unit.  The individual Harvard libraries obtain services delineated in individual MOUs for each library and funding by the individual libraries to the Harvard Library will be determined in time. The three Services are Access, Information and Technology, and Digital and Imaging respectively.  These span most of Countway Library services, but exclude Special Collections such as our Center for the History of Medicine which will continue its affairs unchanged at this time.  This restructuring is planned to be a trial.

While we lost a friend in Senior Associate Provost for the Harvard Library, Mary Lee Kennedy to the New York Public Library in May, 2013, we have gained Sarah Thomas in August 2013 as Vice President for the Harvard Library.  She is eminently suited and we have invited her to the BML Board meeting in December and look forward to her leadership and support of the BML in its strategic directions.  Harvard University summarized her experience thus. “Thomas currently serves as Bodley’s Librarian and director of the Bodleian Libraries—the first woman and non-British citizen to hold the position in 400 years—as well as pro-vice-chancellor and member of the faculty of modern languages at the University of Oxford . Previous to Oxford, Thomas was the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell. She served as the president of the Association of Research Libraries, and also held posts at the Library of Congress, where she led in the establishment of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, the National Agricultural Library, the Research Libraries Group at Stanford University and Harvard’s Widener Library, among other positions.”   

An ardent supporter of the Countway and the BML, Executive Dean at HMS, Rick Mills has moved to leadership at Dartmouth College.  It is a big loss for the BML and to me personally.  We wish him well and look forward to a replacement.  The Director of Administration for the Countway, John Armstrong was given the administrative leadership role for the BML last year.  He has since been replaced by Eric Perakslis.  We welcome him and look forward to his leadership.

Your President and Board will continue to work with our Director, Dr. Kohane to ensure continued integration of the BML strategic priorities into the overall HL and Countway plans. 

BML services as a resource for lifelong learning

The BML came into being to help physician lifelong learning.  One of our main priorities continues to be a search as to how a medical library such as ours focused on the practicing physician may be of service in today’s changing world.  

This is not just a BML goal; it needs to be a joint mission of both the BML and HMS.  After all, the BML’s primary mission is not too far from Harvard Medical School’s mission.  If the goal of medical education is ultimately the betterment of the health of the public and treatment of suffering, what good would it do to create new knowledge from research and educate students and others within the walls of the institution and ignore their continued learning needs once they step outside those walls in order to serve those very needs of the community throughout their professional career?  Given the standing and intellectual resources of the two partner institutions; mutuality of the goals; and the importance to our end constituency, society at large especially in these times of challenges and momentous advances; the Countway is most well equipped and situated to lead in this field of lifelong learning by physicians in practice.  The BML’s partnership with the MMS, the other three medical schools of Massachusetts, the Boston Public Library etc. lends a very powerful additional dimension.

Our thanks to Mitchell Izower, a then 3rd year Tufts medical student, who joined in December 2012, the effort as a volunteer and is doing, as a part of a subcommittee, necessary research under the mentorship of David Osterbur, and your President.  This has included resources generally available to physicians including commercial ones, the Countway’s potential resources and efforts in this direction by other libraries. 

The Massachusetts Medical Society surveyed its members on behalf of the BML in the Spring of 2012 regarding member library habits, BML use, needs etc.  There were 190 respondents, 75% specialists and 25% in primary care; 68% male and 32% female.
Here are some of the highlights:

  • Sites most searched for information to help practice: Google 79%, Pubmed 73%, Uptodate 57%, WebMD 31%
  • Comments regarding sites used: Some used Tufts, Partners and HMS website
  • 77% had not used the BML in the past 3 months
  • What educational programs by BML would benefit you most?                                           
  • How to search: Pubmed  44%, Internet 29%, Google 10%
  • Other comments regarding educational programs:

How to use citation software; How to access the library

  • Preferred smart library use learning format: Online 51%, In person 30%
  • General comments: Need reference service; Access to e-sources; How to structure searches; More info on how to use already available resources to MMS members; More timely librarian help

Based on this, the BML presented two tutorials for MMS members at the MMS Branch Library in Waltham on how to be discerning library users and learners. 

Here is a composite vignette from program attendees:
Learnt how to: 
•           Research a question;
•           Access appropriate resources;
•           Evaluate information; and
•           Draw conclusions.

Their take-home:
•           Use the skills frequently or you’ll forget;
•           Print out key web pages to help navigation;
•           Attend repeat programs for reinforcement

These results are less than robust.  Your Board deliberated on the work done and allocated funding for further effort.  Planning is underway for obtaining further information on physician unfulfilled needs. 

The BML branch library at the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) in Waltham serves MMS members and staff for its thirteenth year.  Continued efforts are ongoing to maximize the branch library’s efficiency, utility and user – friendliness.  Two on-site in person hands-on educational program was presented.  On-site librarian has been discontinued by the MMS for now based on on-site use statistics and users access the librarians by phone or e-mail at the Countway site of the BML.

The MMS HOD includes in its Interim meeting agenda a short BML report.  The MMS HOD Handbook will have a page for the BML at each meeting.  At the November 30, 2012 MMS HOD Interim meeting, the BML podium report included a short summary of the participant experience and recommendation from BML hands on tutorial for knowledge management.

The BML goal of “Preservation and Celebration of History of Medicine,”
has continued to be advanced under the leadership of Dr. Scott Podolsky, Director of the Center for the History of Medicine (CHOM).  Efforts this year include:

BML Countway Fellowship
In September 2002, the Countway inaugurated its first fellowship program, the Francis A. Countway Library Fellowship in the History of Medicine, sponsored by the Boston Medical Library’s Abel Lawrence Peirson fund.

This year, in the setting of a fantastic array of applicants (13 altogether, of universally high quality), and with an increase in overall funding from $10,000 to $15,000, we were able to award six fellowships.

The complete list of Fellows is available on the web at:

The list of historic acquisitions, data on preservation, digitization, loan of and permission to others for use art work during last year was not available in time to include in this report.  They would be available on our website under the Center for the History of Medicine.

Our gratitude to Dr. Adam Moore, former BML Trustee for many years, who has painstakingly continued to present the “BML” exhibits from his collection on the history of medicine at the MMS offices in Waltham.  He changes the exhibit frequently to celebrate and enhance environmental events and themes. Last year’s exhibit was predominantly dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Oncologist at Columbia University Medical Center delivered the 37th Annual Joseph E. Garland Memorial Lecture on “Writing a History of Cancer: An epilogue” on October 11, 2012 to packed primary and overflow auditoriums.  He is the author of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Emperor of All Maladies:A Biography of Cancer.”

J. Worth Estes Lecture
Daniel Carpenter, PhD, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, Director of the Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University delivered the 2013 Estes Lecture on May 13, 2013 on “The FDA and the Remaking of Modern Clinical Research”

The 38th Annual Joseph E. Garland Memorial Lecture will be delivered today by Lawrence Altman, MD, Medical Journalist/Columnist, The New York Times; and
Clinical Professor of Medicine, New York University, on “Adventures at the Intersection of Medical Journalism & Public Health”


S. Jay Jayasankar, MD
October 23, 2013

Appendix 1
Boston Medical Library Strategic Plan Priority Objectives
(Adopted by the Board on December 9, 2004
Progress Reviewed and reaffirmed February 16, 2012)

  • Objectives under Goal #1: Dissemination of Knowledge
    • Remote access     
    • Offer training programs for physicians in electronic access and knowledge management
  • Objectives under Goal #2: Promotion of Medical Education
    • Explore ways to increase awareness/access to learning programs for practicing physicians to maintain their lifelong professional development          
  • Objectives under Goal #3: Preservation and Celebration of History of Medicine       
    • Cataloguing and preservation of and newer means of access to BML collection - e.g. digitization
    • Programs with/without exhibits:
      • Didactic/ Interactive
      • Exhibits- on site, off site
    • Publication of articles based on collection, periodically in journals
    • Occasional publication of outstanding books
    • Increase opportunities for promoting scholarship
  • Objectives under Enabling Goals -Infrastructure to support BML Goals and Objectives       
    • BML is true partner in developing plans for the Coutnway
    • Responsiveness and leadership of Countway staff for BML needs, programs and services
    • Staff and organizational structure to implement programs
    • Staff and structure to enable grant/proposal writing and external partnership development

BML Mission
“To be a Library for the dissemination of medical knowledge, the promotion of medical education and scholarship, and the preservation and celebration of medical history, and thereby to advance the quality of health and healthcare of the people.”


Appendix 2

2012-2013 Recipients of the Boston Medical Library’s Francis A. Countway Library Fellowship in the History of Medicine funded by BML’s Abel Lawrence Peirson fund:

Kaara L. Peterson (Miami University)
Negotiating virtue: Elizabeth I and depictions of virginity in 16th and 17th century English art and culture”

Rafico Ruiz (McGill University)
Alexander Forbes, Sir William Grenfell, and the mapping of the coast of Labrador

Catherine L. Thomspon (University of Connecticut)
Patient expectation: therapeutics in the early Republic”

2013-2014 Recipients of the Boston Medical Library’s Francis A. Countway Library Fellowship in the History of Medicine funded by BML’s Abel Lawrence Peirson fund:

Vanessa Burrows (City University of New York)
"The Medicalization of Stress: Hans Selye and the Postwar Medical Marketplace"

Erin R. Corrales-Diaz (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
"Remembering the Veteran: Disability, Trauma, and the American Civil War, 1861-1915"

Sean P. Phillips (University of Notre Dame)
"Pox in the Pulpit: the Catholic Church and Smallpox in France, 1724-1832"

James Poskett (Trinity College, University of Cambridge)
"Bumps beyond Borders: a Global History of Phrenology, 1820-1858"

Nicolas Rasmussen (University of New South Wales)
"Jean Mayer and the Cold War Obesity Crisis"

Thibaut Serviant-Fine (Universite Claude Bernard)
"Drugs and Tools: Antimetabolites in the Early History of Cancer Chemotherapy, 1940-1960"
List of current and previous years’ fellows may be accessed at:


Appendix 3

The Adam Moore BML exhibits which have appeared in the three 46x22” MMS cases at the Massachusetts Medical Society Offices in Waltham:

02 Jun 04 – 31 Oct 04:  MEDICAL BOTANY
        in support of MMS' medicinal garden

01 Nov 04 – 05 Dec 04:  WHAT ON EARTH
        introducing the specialty-based series of exhibits

05 Dec 04 – 05 Jan 05:  THE HEART OF IT ALL 
        cardiology: pulse & stethoscopes, auscultation

05 Jan 05 – 15 Feb 05:  MEDICAL MINERALS
        pharmacology & materia medica 

15 Feb 05 – 19 Mar 05 :  MICROSCOPY
        laboratory & medical education

19 Mar 05 – 28 Apr 05:  SMALLPOX & VACCINATION
        infectious disease & public health

28 Apr 05 – 08 Jun 05:  OPHTHALMOSCOPY
       The instrument’s development and forms

08 Jun 05 – 26 Jun 05:  CRIMEAN

26 Jun 05 – 09 Aug 05: TUBERCULOSIS
       recent case in a medical student    

09 Aug 05 – 27 Sep 05:  PHYSICIAN WRITERS (Summer Reading)

27 Sep 05 – 13 Nov 05:  MANIKINS
        examples from three centuries

13 Nov 05 – 08 Jan 06:  CLINICAL THERMOMETRY

08 Jan 06 – 08 Mar 06: MEDICAL PHILATELY
        postage rate increase effective 8 Jan 06
08 Mar 06 – 20 Apr 06: DOCumentation
        It's Not Just a Paper Chase: Making Case for Documentation March 29, 8-12 MMS Hq

20 Apr 06 – 23 Jun 06: PLEASE PASS THE KNIFE

23 Jun 06 – 02 Aug 06: SPECTROSCOPY

02 Aug 06 – 24 Oct 06:  STITCH IN TIME (sutures & ligatures)

24 Oct 06 – 04 Jan 07:  HAPPY 225th!
       MMS pubs in conjunction with loans for preparation of a commemorative video

04 Jan 07 – 15 Mar 07: COLORBLINDNESS

15 Mar 07 – 30 Apr 07:  JUST IMAGING !
       Imaging and Treatment Strategies in Primary Care Medicine,  April 6,MMS Hq all day
       Jointly sponsored by Tufts School of Med., St. Elizabeth’s, & Tufts Health Care Institute

30 Apr 07 – 30 Jul 07:  HERBALS
       In support of MMS' medicinal garden

30 Jul 07 – 16 Oct 07:  DOCTOR EXPLORERS

16 Oct 07 – 22 Jan 08: MAPPING MEDICINE

      Related to Careers event in early February at MMS Hq

13 Mar 08 – 20 May 08: DOCTOR AT SEA    

20 May 08 – 18 Sep 08: MMS HORTUS MEDICUS’ ORIGINS
       In support of MMS' medicinal garden

18 Sep 08 – 19 Nov 08:  ELEGANT TOOLS

19 Nov 08 – 30 Mar 09: TAKE YOUR MEDICINE

30 Mar 09 – 28 May 09: CALL AN AMBULANCE
       Related to MMS' Hq 3/31 “Disaster & Primary Care: how to protect pts & practice”

28 May 09 – 20 Aug 09:  PHYSICIENNES – I
      Related to MMS' Hq program, 24 June, on early women members of the Society

28 Aug 09 – 22 Nov 09:  PHYSICIENNES - II                            
      Related to second MMS' Hq program, 25 Sep 09, on early women members of the Society

22 Nov 09 – 07 Jan 10:  EPONYMOUS

17 Jan 10 – 17 July 10: WHAT’S BUGGING YOU!

17 July 10 – 12 Nov10: BALLOONS: BOSTON AND BEYOND

12 Nov 10 – 07 Dec 11: FINGERPRINTS

07 Dec 11 12 Apr 12: TONSIL TIME

15 Apr 12 -- 09 Oct 12: NEJM 200th
       Playmates / 200th / Contemporaries October 11, 2012