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Keep Calm and Ask a Librarian

A typical health sciences student might approach the Falk Library Main Desk with these questions: “I’m embarrassed to ask, but how do I find this book?” or “How do I search PubMed to locate articles on my topic?” Congratulations intrepid library user—you asked for assistance! Less common, and more challenging are users so intimidated about navigating the library that they do not ask for help.

We want to reach out to anyone who feels ‘library anxious’ or reluctant to approach our helpful, accessible library staff. Library anxiety is described as “an uncomfortable feeling or emotional disposition, experienced in a library setting, which has cognitive, affective, physiological, and behavioral ramifications…characterized by feelings of…tension [and] fear…which debilitate information literacy.” Continue reading

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Director’s Reflections…Advocating on Capitol Hill

Barbara Epstein
HSLS Director

As President of the Medical Library Association (MLA), I am a member of the Joint Legislative Task Force of MLA and the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries. Every year, this group treks to Washington, DC to visit congressional offices. We meet with legislative aides (and occasionally representatives and even senators) to advocate for legislation that is important to our organizations, namely funding for the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as legislative and federal initiatives to increase public access to the results of federally funded research.

This year, our visits took place on April 4. I visited the offices of Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, and Representative Mike Doyle (PA 14), whose district includes the University of Pittsburgh. We were very pleased to thank them for their support of the generous funding to NLM and NIH in the recently passed FY18 budget legislation, and we explained how the $3 billion increase to NIH and $21 million for NLM will create jobs, provide hope to patients across the country, widen the opportunity for breakthroughs in biomedical research and support our nation’s continued global leadership in sciences and technology. Continue reading

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Iconic Annotated Medical Bibliography Is Now Online

The medical bibliography commonly known as Garrison-Morton originated as a checklist of texts illustrating the history of medicine. It was published by Fielding H. Garrison in 1933. Leslie T. Morton revised, updated, and annotated the checklist, and then published it as A Medical Bibliography in 1943. Each consequent edition brought this resource up to date, the last time in 1991 when Jeremy Norman assumed responsibility for the project. He saw the future of this bibliography in some electronic form even before the fifth edition was published (“The Future of the Garrison-Morton Bibliography,” Health Libraries Review, 1987, 4, 130-131).

Norman realized his idea in 2014 when he started to work on the current iteration of the bibliography, Jeremy Norman’s History of Medicine and the Life Sciences. He introduced not only the new format, but converted the bibliography into an interactive database freely available on the Internet. Because entry numbers had become established references, Norman preserved the decimal numbering system for original entries (1-6810), but any new additions simply get a new consecutive number (6811-onward).

He revised the scope of the bibliography by adding new subjects: molecular biology, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, homeopathy, ethnobotany, and graphic medicine. He expanded coverage of physicians’ travel and voyages, zoology, and veterinary medicine, and started to include electronic resources. There are more than 3,500 new entries since the last print edition. Many older ones have significantly revised annotations, updated birth and death dates, or new subject assignments. Norman also added the links to other sites pointing to authors’ biographies and digital facsimiles of the works.

The original arrangement of entries by class and chronology is partially lost in the online version. However, the inclusion of introductions and tables of contents for the previous versions gives the user some idea of the original arrangement. In addition, browsing the database with the help of indexes is more versatile. The site allows perusal by subject, author, year or place of publication, and by entry number. In addition to using the subject index to explore the resources, each entry has a list of related subject terms, which is another way of finding works on the same topic. The results are displayed in chronological order whether you use the subject, author, or place of publication browse.

~Gosia Fort

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Therapy for the ‘Dog Days’ of Exams

Many university campuses offer pet therapy programs to reduce stress and promote student well-being, particularly around exam times when stress levels rise. Research exists to show the short-term psychological benefits of such therapy sessions. Therefore, HSLS recently collaborated with our 2nd year medical student well-being taskforce to pilot Falk Library as a location for dog therapy. In February and March, HSLS offered three dog therapy sessions, scheduled around study for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 medical board exams. Total attendance for all sessions reached nearly 60 and informal feedback was extremely positive, prompting us to offer another session open to all health sciences students in April, coordinated near final exams.

Although we did not measure blood pressure or heart rate, or conduct formal interviews with the students to assess feelings of well-being, we did measure our success through positive interaction, laughter, and smiles and plan to continue pet therapy programs in the future.

HSLS would like to thank Rick Oberndorf and Nancy Olson, the pet handlers, who volunteered their time to this effort.

~Renae Barger

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Treasures from the Rare Book Room: Doctor Rogers’s Oleum Arthriticum

The Gout Collection at Pitt is the legacy of Gerald Rodnan (1927-1983), a former professor at the School of Medicine. Among its many rarities is a small leaflet, Doctor Rogers’s Oleum Arthriticum or Specific Oil for the Gout, published in 1735.

John Rogers was a respected apothecary in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and a licensed physician. He came upon a successful combination of oils in 1729. After testing it on himself, he treated several local fellow gout sufferers. William Stukeley, a physician and scholar well known in London circles, observed the success of Rogers’ medication. He gave an account of it to the Royal Society in London in 1733 (A letter to Sir Hans Sloan […] of the Royal Society about the cure of the gout…) and wrote Treatise of the Cause and Cure of the Gout (1734). The endorsement was powerful.

Doctor Rogers’s Oleum Arthriticum is an advertisement of the oils written in the form of letters between two gentlemen: one from London who successfully used Rogers’ treatment, the other from Dublin who learned about the cure from Stukeley’s book and decided to self-medicate based on Stukeley’s powerful endorsement. The letters are followed by additional directions for a regimen, in which Rogers recommends to vomit, bleed, and purge to enhance the work of the oils. He also includes information on pricing and the distribution of the medicine.

The unassuming leaflet bound in a simple contemporary paper hardcover has a handwritten dedication to Gerald P. Rodnan from Stewart C. Reed on the inside back cover and the collector’s bookplate on the inside front cover. It is very scarce, as most ephemeral prints are. Only four libraries in the United States appear to own a copy. What makes our item unique is the author’s handwritten note added on the last page. The printed statement Nor will I allow them to be sold at two Places in the same Town is crossed out and a new note added at the bottom: All Persons are free to buy these to sell again – J R.

The book can be seen in the Rare Book Room by appointment. For more information, please send an e-mail to

~ Gosia Fort

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HSLS Staff News


Julia Dahm has been appointed to the position of Coordinator of Technology Integration Services. This position facilitates HSLS’s cohesive technology framework including leadership of Falk Library’s Technology Help Desk, patron-based technology education and training initiatives, online learning technology back-end administration, internal and external media creation, and leads HSLS’s traveling exhibit program.


Presenter names in bold are HSLS-affiliated

Kate Flewelling, Executive Director, NNLM Middle Atlantic Region, presented “National Network of Libraries of Medicine and the Collaborative Summer Library Program: A New Partnership” at the Collaborative Summer Library Program Annual Meeting, in Denver, CO, on April 10, 2018.

R. Jun Lin presented “Positive Effect of Nimodipine on Vocal Fold and Facial Motion Recovery Following Injury—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” at the American Laryngological Association Annual Meeting on April 18, 2018. Co-authors were Michele Klein Fedyshin, Research and Clinical Instruction Librarian, Lauren Terhorst, and Clark A. Rosen.

Erin Seger, Health Professions Coordinator, NNLM Middle Atlantic Region, presented “Resources to Address the Needs of Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers” at the 2018 Pennsylvania Public and Community Health Annual Conference, in Lancaster, PA, on April 3, 2018.

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Classes for May 2018

HSLS Classes

Introduction to Tableau for Data Visualization, Monday, May 14, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

EndNote Basics, Tuesday, May 15, 9-11 a.m.

Introduction to the Pitt Data Catalog, Thursday, May 17, 2-3 p.m.

Painless PubMed*, Friday, May 18, 9-10 a.m.

Advanced PowerPoint for Presentations, Monday, May 21, 1-2:30 p.m.

Searching for Dollars, Wednesday, May 23, 4-5 p.m.

Painless PubMed*, Wednesday, May 30, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Locating and Citing Research Data, Thursday, May 31, 3-4 p.m.

Molecular Biology Information Service

Pathway Analysis, Wednesday, May 9, 1-4 p.m.

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