Christa M. Modschiedler, Biomedical Bibliographer
June, 2010//revised October, 2010
Library of Congress Classes: R-RZ
Brief overview of the collection
• History: Prior to 1984, the University of Chicago Library’s biomedical collection was split and housed in several different locations: Biology Library (in Culver Hall until 1969, 1970-1984 in the Joseph Regenstein Library B-level), Billings Library (Billings Hospital, 1935 to 1984), and in Harper Storage. Since the merger of the University of Chicago science libraries with the John Crerar Library in September 1984, the John Crerar Library at the University of Chicago is considered the central location for the biological sciences and medical collections. Rare materials, manuscripts, and archives are housed in the Special Collections Research Center. The medical sciences collection includes scientific research and scholarly publications in the basic and clinical biomedical sciences, and publications and other information resources useful in an academic medical center and clinical care institution. Print and digital collections of journals, books, and other information resources are developed to support the research, instructional, and clinical & patient care interests of faculty, students, and staff of the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division (BSD), the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCHC). The Library provides a growing number of electronic journals as well as other electronic resources and Internet-based clinical information services developed by biomedical publishers, professional societies, and various vendors.
• Broad subject areas emphasized or de-emphasized: The subject areas that are being emphasized support research, teaching, clinical activities, and patient care in the BSD biomedical departments, academic committees, research centers, and institutes, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Selection is supported by a number of endowed funds in several different subject areas. The following list provides the framework for the biomedical subjects and medicine, including all medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties that are currently being emphasized and collected at the research level:
The subject areas that are being emphasized support research, teaching, clinical activities, and patient care in the BSD biomedical departments, academic committees, research centers, and institutes, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Selection is supported by a number of endowed funds in several different subject areas. The following list provides the framework for the biomedical subjects and medicine, including all medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties that are currently being emphasized and collected at the research level:
• Description of academic program: The medical sciences collection serves the biomedical research and clinical faculty, graduate & undergraduate students, residents, fellows, and house staff of the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division (BSD), the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Medical Center whose activities and interests encompass significant basic (often cutting-edge), experimental medicine, translational research, and clinical medicine, publication, teaching/instruction, and patient care. It supports research projects from the undergraduate and graduate levels through the Ph.D. degree and instruction, including medical education leading to the M.D. degree, the training of residents and physician-scientists (involvement in basic, clinical, and applied research, and also combined degrees in special programs, e.g., the MD/PhD Program in Medicine, the Social Sciences, and Aging; Medical Scientist Training Program; the Program in Medicine, Arts, and the Social Sciences.
• Audience/Purpose: There are several distinct BSD user groups with very different information needs that need to be kept in mind when making selection decisions concerning print and online information resources. The medical sciences and biological sciences collections are managed primarily to meet the needs of the current University of Chicago faculty, students, and staff. Collections support undergraduate and graduate instructions, faculty research, and graduate research through the Ph.D. level. Faculty, students, and staff in the BSD (including the various biomedical departments, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Medical Center) are the primary users of the collection. Occasional users include University of Chicago students from disciplines other than the BSD, Crerar corporate members, as well as unaffiliated users.
• Levels of selection: Comprehensive, research, instructional support, basic information; for a description of these levels, see the general policy statement.
Collecting in the biomedical and medical sciences is generally at the research level or instructional support level. The overall goal is to build a collection to serve the varied needs of the biomedical user groups and to provide information resources that support the research and teaching activities in the BSD basic sciences and biomedical sciences departments and the Pritzker School of Medicine. A further goal is to keep abreast of the continually expanding scholarly literature in the medical sciences and collecting and selecting materials that result in a relatively comprehensive and balanced collection of relevant resources for current users and also to possibly anticipate future needs. Considering the large number of titles published in the medical sciences and available medical sciences collection funding, selection of journals and books has always been and will remain rather selective. Present collecting emphasizes the current and authoritative biomedical sciences literature (e.g., peer-reviewed serials/journals, monographs, electronic resources, and selected non-print media) that deal with the subjects as outlined above, with broad general coverage of these areas and various related subject areas.
• Type of materials included & excluded: The biomedical/medical sciences collection contains mainly research journals, monographs, and reference materials. Included is a collection of significant scientific and scholarly research journals in all the major biomedical and clinical sciences subjects. The Crerar Library maintains a research collection of biomedical and clinical medical sciences monographic literature, containing original thought and research, monographic works that support U.S. clinical practice and education of U.S. health professionals. The collection also contains a selection of biomedical graduate-level textbooks, biographical materials (biographies; autobiographies; personal narratives; memoirs; published oral history transcripts); medical histories of famous persons; biographical works about individuals who have contributed significantly to biomedicine. Reference materials include abstracts, indexes, subject & personal bibliographies; dictionaries and glossaries of terms, names, subjects, phrases, abbreviations, acronyms and symbols; encyclopedias that support biomedical and health research and scholarship, etc. National Academy Press publications, government publications received via the Federal Depository Library Program, and publications from the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, and other organizations. Undergraduate textbooks are usually only purchased in support of specific courses. Highly selectively acquired are the following types of materials: Annual reports; atlases; collected works; separately published conference, congresses, and symposia proceedings; continuing education publications; directories; examination review guides; laboratory manuals; lectures; reprints & facsimile editions. Very few types of materials are excluded altogether. However, the following types of materials are generally excluded, even though some exceptions are made on occasion: Doctoral dissertation from institutions other than the University of Chicago; Habilitationsschriften; consumer health publications; popular treatment of medical subjects; teachers’ guides; juvenile literature; loose-leaf publications; medical pamphlets; print copies of newsletters & newspapers; pharmacopoeias and formularies; market research reports; pocket-size books; separately published maps, graphs, and posters, self-instructional tests; most spiral-bound publications, syllabi, and workbooks.
• Physical formats included & excluded: Biomedical and clinical medical sciences information is published in a variety of formats. Furthermore, the same content might be available in multiple formats. The number of relevant biomedical resources published in electronic format is steadily increasing and selection of e-journals, electronic backfiles of journals and e-books is considered a high priority for this collection. The majority of the Library’s collections consist of printed books and journals. However, the number of relevant biomedical sciences resources published in electronic format is steadily increasing and the selection and purchase of e-journals, electronic backfiles of journals and e-books is highly desirable. Increasingly, journals are being received in electronic format only and virtually no new print subscriptions are being initiated. For journals, indexing & abstracting resources, and major reference works, web-based electronic format is preferred over print format. Criteria for format selection for monographs are fully searchable text, availability on established platform, persistent URLs and/or availability of MARC records for access and discovery. Digital web-based biomedical information resources have gained in importance in recent years and are given preference. Materials in other formats (CD-ROM, DVD, or other audio-visual materials, for example) may be selected and purchased on occasion, but usually only by request to support a curricular need. Cost is always a consideration. No formats are entirely excluded, although some formats present significant access and preservation challenges and are avoided when possible. Web access is preferred over physical electronic media (e.g., CD-ROM). Video and audio formats are acquired very selectively, with preference given to the most current accessible technology available (e.g., currently DVD preferred to VHS formats). Microforms are assessed for readability issues prior to selection. For journals, indexing and abstracting resources and reference works, web-based electronic format is preferred over print format.
• Publication dates collected: Emphasis is given to the selection and acquisition of current materials. Recently published materials are given top priority, and consideration is given to monographs published during the last three to five years. Older monographs are acquired more selectively as funds allow.
• Languages: Even though generally no languages are excluded, the major emphasis is on selection and acquisition of English-language materials, although some long-standing foreign-language serial subscriptions continue to play a role. Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian are the most common languages found within the biomedical collection. Selections made by the area studies bibliographers may add materials in other foreign languages. Very few new foreign-language journal subscriptions are presently initiated and very few foreign-language monographs are being acquired. Translations from foreign languages into English are selected, but not translations from one foreign language into another, unless of specific significance.
• Geographical range: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
• Chronological span: From 1914 to present. See also History of Science, Medicine, and Technology collection policy statement.
Areas of distinction
The collection is strong in the history of medicine, with approximately 30,000 rare books located in the Special Collections Research Center. Noteworthy collections include the Clifford G. Grulee Collection on Pediatrics and the Nicholas Senn Collection, the recently acquired rare book collection of the Rush University Medical Center, and others.
Related University of Chicago collections
The interdisciplinary nature of many of the academic programs and subject areas makes collaboration between the biomedical bibliographer and other University of Chicago Library selectors desirable and often necessary. Biomedical selection touches on many topics in the social sciences and humanities and choices that benefit the biomedical collection are also made by other bibliographers in the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities:
Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections
Selection is influenced to some extent by what is known about the resources of other Chicago libraries, particularly the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and local medical libraries. There are, however, no formal agreements concerning collection policy.