Historical Texts Helping Modern Students

Post Date:
Nov 22, 2022

Librarians at W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections and Bracken Health Sciences Library have partnered to collaborate on a Rare Medical Texts Outreach Project. The librarians were inspired by the New York Academy of Medicine Library’s Colour Our Collections which was launched in 2016 as an annual colouring festival in which libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions are invited to share images from their collections as colouring book content. The Ohio State University Health Science Library’s A Vesalius Colouring Book was one such inspiring example of this initiative. In February 2023,  Queen’s University Library plans to register as a participating institution with our very own Ol’ Medical Colouring Book!

This project could not have been realized without the hard work and dedication of Carolyn Kane, a HIST 212 student who undertook the selection of images and overall design with a special focus on images from anatomy and botany special collections. Selected works include Andrea Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, Browne & Scarburgh’s Myographia nova sive musculorum omnium, and Blackwell’s Herbarium Blackwellianum among others.

When asked about the most interesting aspects of working on this project, Carolyn immediately remarked,I had the privilege of working firsthand with items in the collection ten times my age!” This is not her first experience working with special collections. In 2021, she took HIST 241 with Dr. Claire Kennan which focused on issues of representation and colonialism in the archives sector. During the course, she was able to visit archival collections in England and even create her own archive, Art of the Empire: Indigenous Peoples of Canada, focusing on the relationship between the British Empire and Indigenous Peoples in Canada through art and material culture. Carloyn also revealed how these experiences have inspired her to continue working with historical objects after she graduates, saying “I am considering a career in Library and Archival Science, and I am thankful to have gained a lot of valuable skills in this area during my internship.”

This initiative is aimed at providing students with a fun, stress relief activity to support their mental health during the stressful exam season while incorporating the history and images they may be exposed to throughout their studies. In addition, the book includes helpful tips for managing stress during this time of year, and links to Student Wellness Services (SWS), as well as the library for additional assistance and resources.

Students, faculty, staff, and researchers are warmly invited to attend pop-up events on November 28th between 11:30am-2:30pm in the main lobby of Botterell Hall, and December 8th between 10:00am-1:00pm in the Stauffer Library atrium where Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections, Dr. Brendan Edwards, and Health Sciences Librarian, Angélique Roy, will be distributing free printed copies of the Ol’ Medical Colouring Book. They will also have the original texts on display to be browsed, and attendees are welcome to ask any questions about the images featured in the colouring book or about the project itself. It is hoped this will be just the first iteration of an ongoing initiative at Queen’s University Library, with the goal of developing these colouring books as a tool for mental wellness, and increasing the information included about featured images toward use as a unique teaching and learning object.

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