Columbia Library columns (v.2(1952Nov-1953May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.2,no.1(1952:Nov): Page 28  

The Editor Visits the Medical Library

. UR visit the other day to the Medical Library at the
Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center was made at a
rather different tempo than visits years ago, when we
used to rush in, a harassed medical student, chasing an elusive
textbook, or intent on some hasty search of the literature. On this
occasion we calmly reserved an afternoon of Librarian Thomas
Fleming's time—causing who knows what dislocation in that
kindly man's schedule, but gratifying ourself with a luxurious
sense of postgraduate leisure.

The stairs leading up to the Library still had their familiar
aromatic but businesslike hospital odor, and the Library itself
looked much the same. In the high, vaguely Gothic reading-room
the white-coated readers gazed at the same fat volumes. The
assistant stood as before behind the counter, and students peered
over his shoulder to see if Gray's Anatomy or Boyd's Pathology
were on the reserve shelves. The Doctors Draper, father and son,
still stared with bronze impassivity from their plaque on the east
wall, noting the constantly accelerating influx of books, the over¬
flowing shelves—wondering, perhaps, where will it all end?

"Yes, where will it all end?" said Mr. Fleming, as we sat after
lunch in his book-lined office. "This library building was opened
in 1928 with 49,000 volumes, and with room on shelves for
100,000 in all. Today we have more than 175,000, and the col¬
lection is increasing at the rate of about 8,500 volumes a year. We
received 785 journals in 1937, the year I began here as Librarian;
today we take 2,023 journals. Last year we dropped 32 journals,
but added 199 new ones."

"How about a bonfire of some of your obsolete volumes?" we
suggested, appalled at this inexorable multiplication of the
printed word.

Mr. Fleming smiled wryly. "We have 11,000 items or there-
  v.2,no.1(1952:Nov): Page 28