Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology Expands Online Collection

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Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology (WLM) Continues to Build on Its Position as the Leading Online Source on the History of Anesthesiology; Extensive New Material Added to Many Sections of the Website Makes This Unique Collection More Accessible Than Ever

Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology Seal

Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology Seal

The WLM's premises in Park Ridge, Illinois contain the largest and most comprehensive archive of anesthesiology-related publications and artifacts in the world, offering a unique opportunity to study the history of anesthesiology.

The Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology (WLM) has been carrying out an ongoing project to make as much of its collection as possible available online. The WLM's premises in Park Ridge, Illinois contain the largest and most comprehensive archive of anesthesiology-related publications and artifacts in the world, offering a unique opportunity to study the history of anesthesiology. The Wood Library-Museum's goal is to offer its holdings to a wider audience through freely available multimedia resources.

A major part of the project is the continuing digitization of the WLM's Rare Book Collection. More than 200 titles have recently been added to the site's online archive. Many of these titles can be accessed by the public only through WLM; by making them available online they now can be more widely studied by scholars, students and enthusiasts who are unable to visit the WLM's premises in Park Ridge. The Rare Book Collection includes books and professional journals as well as a trove of letters, diaries, portraits and other materials, which give a unique insight into the development of the specialty of anesthesiology.

Another addition to the website is Anesthesiology Reflections, a collection of over 130 short vignettes covering all aspects of anesthesiology. These include discussions of equipment, techniques and experiments. Subjects range from the technical to the whimsical, such as Charles Darwin's experiments with etherizing a Venus flytrap.

A popular section of the website looks at famous patients who have been anesthetized. Giving fascinating perspectives on historical events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the birth of Queen Victoria's children, these articles look at the technical, ethical and social questions raised by the use of anesthetics. Two new case studies have been added to this collection, dealing with very different subjects: Winston Churchill and Jenny the Gorilla.

A significant addition to the WLM's collection is the newly published "The Heritage of Anesthesia: Patrick Sim's Annotated Bibliography of the Rare Book Collection of the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology." Patrick Sim, MLS was the Paul M. Wood Distinguished Librarian Emeritus for the WLM. He invested three decades of work in this volume which, completed since his death in 2010, is a unique reference guide to the history of the field and a valuable addition to the collection of any anesthesiologist, surgeon or medical historian.

The WLM operates a YouTube channel offering a wide range of informative and educational videos. These range from introductions by WLM staff, presentations on anesthesia apparatus and discussions on historical topics. A large number of additional videos have been added recently to the channel, bringing the total to 68.

The WLM store has added a second set of note cards, featuring botanical paintings of plants which have been used in anesthesia. Each card, as well as a watercolor of the plant, includes a detailed description of its medical properties. Each set contains twelve cards, including four different designs, and 15 envelopes.

The WLM website is being developed continuously to make the full range of resources more easily accessible. The Wood Library-Museum also is expanding the site in parallel with its physical exhibits, which now are housed in a renovated gallery. This design allows a more informative experience than before. All are welcome to visit and experience this remarkable archive of anesthesiology, either in person (appointment required) or online.

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Karen Bieterman M.L.I.S., Director and Head Librarian
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