A map showing 229 red dots accross the continental United States, concentrated east of the Rockies, and one in Canada.

National Library of Medicine visits a community near you!

By Patricia Tuohy

The National Library of Medicine partners with hundreds of libraries and cultural institutions across the country and around the world in an effort to provide meaningful historical and health related content to audiences in communities near you! The way this happens, is through the Exhibition Program’s traveling exhibition services.

For example, in October 2015, the National Library of Medicine made available a new traveling banner exhibition Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives. The exhibition tells the story of a vanguard of nurse activists who worked to change the way the medical profession responded to patients who had been battered. Three copies of the traveling banner exhibition are traveling around the country through 2019.

Young people stand looking at 6 banners set up in a hexagonal column in a library setting.
Confronting Violence on display at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, April 2016
Courtesy Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

The copy of Confronting Violence that traveled to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, is one of 38 copies of 17 different titles that comprise the NLM traveling banner exhibition portfolio.

During June 2016, with support from the National Library of Medicine Office of the Director, and in response to a wait list that included 80 institutions for 16 exhibition titles, the Exhibition Program was able to extend the itineraries of these exhibitions in response to customer demand.

As of July 2016, the portfolio of traveling banner exhibitions was booked at 75% capacity with the longest-running itinerary extended through 2021.

The scope of the National Library of Medicine efforts to provide meaningful historical and health related content to new audiences can be explored through some key statistics. Between October 2015 and September 2016, NLM traveling banner exhibitions will be catalysts for 231 exhibition openings in 161 institutions in 144 towns and cities in 42 states and 2 provinces in Canada. Between October 2015 and June 2016, Surveys from 62% of institutions that hosted NLM traveling banner exhibitions between September 2015 and June 2016 reported 544,583 people saw those exhibitions.

A map showing 229 red dots accross the continental United States, concentrated east of the Rockies, and two in Canada.
The red dots indicate the 231 locations of NLM exhibition openings, from October 2015 to September 2016

The list of partner institutions that have requested a National Library of Medicine traveling banner exhibition includes 341 colleges and universities, 185 public libraries, 58 professional organizations, 49 cultural institutions, and 9 high schools for a total of 642 organizations. Of these, 342 are member and affiliated members of the National Network of Medical Libraries, including all 8 Regional Medical Libraries.

NLM traveling exhibitions are supported by online adaptations that feature education resources for students and educators in K-12 schools, and colleges and universities. Websites for some exhibitions include selections of related resources at NLM. More recent online projects include curated collections of digitized assets from the History of Medicine Division collections and NLM.

During fall 2016, the Exhibition Program will launch two new NLM traveling banner exhibitions. Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America explores how, through the labor of slaves, like those at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, that we can learn about the ways that meals transcend taste and sustenance. Physician Assistants: Collaboration and Care tells the story about how physician assistants collaborate with other medical professionals and patients to provide quality medical care. Follow us on Facebook to find out when Fire and Freedom and Collaboration and Care will be available for booking!

Check out the Exhibition Program website to find an exhibition near you.

Formal portrait of Patricia TuohyPatricia Tuohy is Head of the Exhibition Program in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.

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