Rare Book Librarian Bernard Becker Medical Library St. Louis, Missouri
Background: Many institutional medical libraries contain special collections divisions holding rare books and archival materials. While these resources have great cultural and research value, they are often underutilized – students and faculty used to frequenting their university’s main library branch don’t immediately think of medical libraries as a source of material for studies in art history, social history, or other areas of the humanities. This poster highlights ways in which medical special collections can increase awareness of their holdings among the community outside the medical schools they are embedded in.
Description: At the author’s institution, the special collections division has made outreach programming a key part of its mission. Throughout the year, the division hosts a number of activities that include book clubs, open houses, and lectures. These events are advertised on the library website, our social media accounts, and mailing lists; and they are open to the general public. While special collections reading rooms can often be intimidating spaces, our events are meant to be casual with a low barrier of entry, providing visitors with a welcoming introduction to our space.
Conclusion: Our outreach activities have steadily increased in popularity. While some of the events were initially poorly attended, holding them consistently throughout the year allowed awareness to spread through word of mouth. Visitors have included students, staff, and faculty from the medical school, members of the main campus community, and members of the general public.