Sunday, January 29, 2006

Open Access to the DIgital Medical Athenum

Open access to the digital medical atheneum - work in progress: from UBC Google Scholar Blog, by Dean Guistini:

Open access to high-quality, digitized versions of the most influential medical books in history is improving, all the time. The National Library of Medicine's History of Medicine Division and the British Library have notable digitization projects worth exploring. NLM's amazing historical collections examine various facets of medical history, and include Islamic manuscripts, searchable images and even the Vesalius
De humani corporis fabrica
. The NLM version of the anatomy classic includes audio commentary, and online magnifying and "page turning" technology.

Google's Book Search is typical of current digitization efforts - it's very much a work in progress. The great medical texts of history - such as Harvey's Circulation of the Blood - are not yet digitized but others mention Harvey's landmark book or are translations. Text versions are available on Bartleby's as are writings by Lister and even Pasteur. Try an advanced search on the Web for specific digital versions.

Googling for medical texts in the digital atheneum is getting easier. But first, if you can, browse specific portals such as MLA's and the AAHM. Two of Canada's best collections in the history of medicine are located at the UBC Woodward Library and McGill's Osler Library of the History of Medicine. Sir William Osler was a bibliofile and gave a collection of 8,000 medical books to McGill.

It will take time to view Osler's complete collection online. Digitization is hard on books, and some texts will likely never be digitized. At present, however, search for static images using Google's Image search, view progress at the Gutenberg project and the Internet Archive. For a good starting point, browse sites selected by McGill's librarians and search for history papers on PubMed, the IndexCat or Google scholar.

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News


kg said...

It is annoying that the article you cite knows REALLY NOTHING about
the digitization of historic works on medicine. ´

lists 400+ free books on this topic mostly in French.

has 3000+ texts in several languages.

DMG said...

Hi librarians,

I take kg's point about my post about open access to digital versions of historic works on medicine. I plan to do a regular series on this topic on UBC Google scholar blog. This post was not meant to be exhaustive, as the area of digitization would fill a book. kg points to two great sites, and I will definitely add them to my list at some point.


Dean Giustini
UBC Google scholar blogger