Osler Library 75th Anniversary

Osler Library 75th Anniversary McGill University

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McGill Reporter
October 14, 2004 - Volume 37 Number 03
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Osler Library 75th Anniversary

The folks at the Osler Library of the History of Medicine are also celebrating Homecoming weekend, marking the 75th anniversary of the library's founding.

Caption follows
View of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius. From William Hamilton's Campi Phlegrai, from the Osler 75th anniversary catalogue. Image courtesy Instructional Multimedia Services.

The free event, open to the public, features a number of speakers and a book launch.

Faith Wallis, a former Osler librarian, said that the event will ideally bring both medical books and medical libraries to life.

"The Osler is a very personal library — although Sir William was a very disciplined and scholarly collector, it still bears the imprint of his particular interests," she said.

When Osler was collecting his volumes in the 19th and early 20th centuries, he did so as a man of his times, as will be discussed by speaker John Harley Warner, from Yale.

"Harley Warner will put Osler in the context of the 19th-century effort by doctors to become scientists," said Wallis.

Nancy Siraisi from Hunter College will speak on Renaissance medical literature — a particular interest of Osler's — and how that period saw a similar redefinition of doctors as scholars and humanists, rather than craftsmen. The Osler's own Louise Genest will deliver a talk on book restoration.

On a more pedagogical and historical note, McGill pathologist Rick Fraser will present a number of artifacts unearthed recently from Osler's teaching days. Osler was a pioneer teacher in incorporating pathology slide specimens for his students to examine under microscopes that the good doctor ordered from Germany. Since then, the university accumulated a number of other pathology specimens that ended up all over the hospitals and campus.

"Fraser has made it a personal crusade to rescue as many of these as he can," said Wallis.

The most recent finds are a series of slides, prepared by a student of Osler's, that were found in a drawer.

After the talks there will be a display of 75 books from the Osler's collection. Wallis's own contribution will be a catalogue of the books, with descriptions written by her and other academics who frequent the library.

Wallis contacted a number of professors from different departments — art history, medicine and history — and asked them to write on an item they were using then.

Not just a celebration of books, it is "supposed to function as an insight on how libraries are used," said Wallis.

McIntyre Building, Martin Amphitheatre, Saturday, October 16, 2 pm.

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