Week 101: HMS and Boston Medical Library Transition

March 3, 2022

In 1960, Harvard Medical School and the Boston Medical Library agreed to combine their distinctive collections of current and historical resources in the Francis A. Countway Library. The Countway building, located on the Harvard Medical School campus, opened in 1965. In the intervening years, these collections have provided students, practitioners, researchers, and historians access to an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, artifacts, and information.

Libraries around the world are adapting to meet the fast-changing needs of the information ecosystem. As part of this evolution and following a thorough reassessment of their opportunities and priorities, HMS and BML are separating their collections to each pursue their individual goals. Both HMS and BML remain committed, first and foremost, to finding the best ways to serve practicing physicians and dentists, public health professionals, students, scientists, and scholars, while safeguarding these world-class collections for generations to come.

One of the most comprehensive academic health research libraries in the country and a leader in special collections and the support of historical research, the Countway Library advances the health and biomedical sciences through its robust circulating, online, and history of medicine and public health collections. It champions open knowledge and access to advance education, research, teaching, and professional growth.

For the Countway, this represents a new era of opportunity and impact. For its circulating and subscription collections, Countway is poised to more effectively participate in Harvard-wide collaborative collection development, better deploy its research and instruction team in the service of the Harvard community, and explore new ways to integrate instructional spaces in the Countway building. Its Center for the History of Medicine, which hosts an incomparable collection of research records and professional papers of Harvard’s medical, dental, and public health faculty, is now positioned to strategically augment its holdings based in part on the demonstrated shift in researcher use of its 20th and 21st century collections.

For details on the BML’s future plans, including information about access to and availability of BML materials and services, visit BML's Announcement. This page also includes a contact email where specific inquiries can be sent to the BML.

HMS is grateful for the decades-long relationship with the BML that has benefitted both institutions.


Elaine Martin, MSLS, DA