Guide to the Research Collections




Approximately 34,000 volumes relating to medicine are held by the library. Works on the therapeutic aspects of medicine or those intended for the professional or specialist have not usually been collected. In view of the strong emphasis upon social history in the library's collections, however, materials that contribute to history and sociology, such as the reports of institutions, are actively collected.

Medicine, like law, requires the special administration of experts, both for the selection of materials and for reference assistance. The New York Academy of Medicine Library at 2 East 103rd Street, noted as the second largest medical library in the United States, is the local library which serves the general public. Readers seeking less specialized information and reference services will find the necessarily smaller medical collections of the Research Libraries of use. There is good coverage of such topics as exercise, the maintenance of health, diets, and the like; it should be stressed that the library makes no distinction between practical plans and fads, and that both aspects are represented in the holdings. Associated with these topics are the publications issued by various departments of public health in the government documents collections of the library, which offers up-to-date information useful to the layman. There are also monographs and periodicals relating to the Red Cross.

Only the most extensive bibliographies of medicine are collected, on a representative basis. Much reliance is placed on inclusive bibliographies such as Index Medicus. Certain older works in all medical fields have been retained due to their value as early imprints, or for documentary purposes other than medical, as is the case with fine illustrated medical books.

The Biological Sciences

The library does not specialize in the fields of the biological sciences. The 31,800 volumes held are adequate only for research of a general nature, although there are strong collections in allied subjects such as agriculture and voyages and travels. Subjects closely related to the medical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, and bacteriology are represented by only small holdings of basic reference texts.

The policy for collecting works in the biological sciences is similar to that for medicine. Until 1877 biology, botany, and zoology were collected comprehensively, and therefore the holdings are rich in the early classics of those fields. Since then it has been the library's policy to acquire only standard works of reference, both domestic and foreign, and similar materials which supplement the collections in other subjects.

The Science and Technology Research Center is attempting to build a central core of basic reference works in biology that may be of assistance to the researcher into biochemistry, biophysics, or biological mathematics. In addition, the center wishes to maintain complete files of comprehensive biological abstracts and indexes so that a researcher may compile bibliographies of works to consult even though the material itself may not be in the Research Libraries.