University at Buffalo: Reporter

It's book number 3 million for University Libraries

News Services Editor

The University Libraries of the University at Buffalo will commemorate the acquisition of their 3 millionth and 3 million-and-first volumes-a 400-year-old obstetrical text and a new CD ROM featuring UB's Poetry Collection-with a daylong program on Sunday, Oct. 20.

Titled "Remembering the Past, Promoting the Future," the program commemorates 150 years of libraries at UB and the university's sesquicentennial. It will feature several events, including presentations by the former director of the National Library of Medicine and by poet, playwright and critic Jerome McGann. It also will be marked with special exhibitions in several libraries in the UB Libraries' system and online computer exhibits.

The celebration will begin with the annual meeting of the Friends of the Health Sciences Library at 10:30 a.m. in the Austin Flint Main Reading Room of the Health Sciences Library on the UB South Campus.

Following a champagne brunch, Martin Cummings, M.D., former director of the National Library of Medicine, will give a presentation on John Shaw Billings, the 19th-century surgeon and librarian whose organization of U.S. medical institutions played a central role in the modernization of hospital care and maintenance of public health.

In 1864, Billings created the library that developed into the National Library of Medicine, today the world's largest medical-reference center. He also is the founder of Index Medicus (1879), a monthly guide to current medical literature that still is regarded as one of the primary medical bibliographies in the United States.

The Health Sciences Library, founded in 1846, was the first unit of the University Libraries to be established.

The University Libraries will accept the 3-millionth and 3-million-and-first volumes during a ceremony to be held at 3 p.m. in the Special Collections Reading Room, 420 Capen Hall on the UB North Campus. A reception will follow.

Barbara von Wahlde, associate vice president for university libraries who will accept the new texts, notes that the selection of these historic volumes emphasizes the long marriage of arts and sciences at UB, founded in 1846 as a medical college.

The event also will feature a talk by Jerome J. McGann, John Stewart Bryan Professor of English at the University of Virginia. It will be titled "Radiant Textuality," a reference to the visual radiance of the computer screen, a medium that has revolutionized libraries and the field of library and information studies, and virtually all other scholarly disciplines. McGann, who wrote a book of the same title, will discuss such issues as the "return of the library," scholarship in the age of networked archives, "radiant" scholarship and criticism, and the effects of technology on pedagogy and the scene of learning, that is, the effect of computer distance learning on teaching and learning.

Volume number 3 million is a significant volume in obstetrics, a rare first edition of De conceptu et generatione hominus published in Zurich in 1554. The book is a classic work on generation, conception and birth written by Jacob Rueff, a surgeon and professor of obstetrics at the University of Zurich. There are fewer than five copies of this rare edition in the United States, according to Lilli Sentz, curator of the 12,000-volume Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection, which will house the historic volume, valued at $7,500.

De conceptu was the first text in obstetrics to use true anatomical pictures and many of its 68 woodcuts portray physiological abnormalities. The illustrations also correct some representations of the female reproductive organs. They originally were derived from Andreas Vesalius, the Renaissance Flemish physician who wrote and illustrated the first textbook in anatomy and thus revolutionized the study of biology and the practice of medicine.

The Rueff book will be presented to the libraries by Joseph N. Ellis, M.D., a 1945 graduate of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The gift will be made in the name of James Platt White, M.D. (1811-1881), principal founder of the UB medical school and its first professor of obstetrics and diseases of women and children. Upon his death, White's collection of more than 1,000 volumes of medical texts, very strong in the area of obstetrics and gynecology, was bequeathed to the university

Volume 3 million and one is not a traditional book at all. It is a CD ROM titled, "HERE: Fifty Years of Poetry in Buffalo," an interactive program published by the UB Libraries' Poetry/Rare Books Collection to document UB's rich history in the field of 20th-century poetry in English.

The CD ROM calls on original materials from UB's Poetry Collection, recognized as one of the finest poetry archives in the world. The collection houses manuscripts, books, tapes and memorabilia of such writers as William Carlos Williams, James Joyce, Robert Graves; Robert Duncan and Charles Olson.

UB Poetry/Rare Books Collection Curator Robert J. Bertolf said the interactive program will allow users to view a wide range of editions and original manuscripts and hear poets like those cited above, in addition to Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Robinson Jeffers and hundreds of others.

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