Circulating Now

Free things like air,
Vital things like blood,
Living things like ideas…

For over 175 years the National Library of Medicine’s historical collections have circulated to generations within the reading rooms of its current and previous locations in and around Washington, DC. Now, these collections—as part of the trillions of bytes of data produced and delivered by the world’s largest biomedical library—circulate daily to millions of people around the world, including scientists, health professionals, scholars, educators, students, and the general public.

Circulating Now sustains the tradition and commitment of the NLM, and libraries everywhere, to provide knowledge and expertise freely and to inspire people and enrich lives.

Circulating Now conveys the vitality of medical history in our 21st-century world: its relevance and importance for research, teaching, and learning about the human condition.

Circulating Now evokes the living quality of the NLM’s historical collections and the stories they offer about the experience of health and disease across ten centuries and around the world.

Established on July 1, 2013, Circulating Now is managed by:

Elizabeth A. Mullen
Managing Editor

Jeffrey S. Reznick
Chief, History of Medicine Division

Editorial Board
Lindsay Franz
Erika Mills
Susan L. Speaker
Krista Stracka

Collection Photography
Tory Detweiler
Krista Stracka

About the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine

The National Libary of Medicine buildingThe History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine collects, preserves, makes available, and interprets for diverse audiences one of the world’s richest collections of historical material related to health and disease. Spanning ten centuries, encompassing a variety of digital and physical formats, and originating from nearly every part of the globe, our collections include:

  • Terabytes of born-digital content, including web sites, blogs, and social media
  • Manuscripts dating from the 11th to the 21st centuries, including the earliest anatomical drawings and the papers of Nobel Prize winning researchers, U.S. Surgeons General, and leaders in the fields of medicine and public health
  • Over 600,000 printed works, including 580 incunabula (Western books printed before 1501), some 57,000 16th-18th century books, and over 400,000 titles published between 1801 and 1913
  • Organizational archives from such groups as the Medical Library Association and the American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • Over 10,000 audiovisuals
  • Over 150,000 prints and photographs

four images drawn from the activities of the Exhibition ProgramThe Library interprets its historical collections through its award-winning Exhibition Program. which develops onsite special displays, graphic traveling banner shows that tour the world, and online K–12 and higher education resources which together advance public awareness about medicine, science, and history. Exhibitions and special displays focus on a variety of topics which explore the relationship between medicine and the arts, science and society, patients and practitioners, and the technology of medicine.

The Library also interprets its historical collections through two free and richly-illustrated books.

detail from the cover of a new illustrated history of the National Library of Medicine.Images of America: US National Library of Medicine, which illustrates the 180-year story of our institution through over 170 images and chapters authored by NLM staff. Download a free copy of Images of America: US National Library of Medicine from NLM’s Digital Collections.

Detail from the cover of the Hidden Treasure bookHidden Treasure, a spectacular, 240-page, full-color book with 450 images and over 80 essays authored by distinguished scholars, artists, collectors, journalists, and physicians. Download a free copy of Hidden Treasure from NLM’s Digital Collections.

You can also discover our collections via NLM Digital Collections a rapidly growing resource including born-digital materials, books, serials, audiovisuals, still images and graphic materials, manuscripts, and oral histories.

As our division embraces the future as a steward of the past, we warmly welcome you to explore all we offer, visit NLM, and conduct research in our world-renowned collections.

Learn more about NLM History of Medicine Division at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd


  1. As an about to retire physician these historic insights hold a particularly fascinating attraction for me.

  2. This is a superb work of love and memory, a repository of ideas, talent, inspiration and human ingenuity. Circulating Now has a simple, brilliant manifesto. No better words could have been chosen to define a mission that rhymes with passion. My gratitude and enthusiasm to Mrs Elizabeth Mullen, Mr Jeffrey Reznick and their staff for this brilliant endeavor. Kind Regards from Carlo, Milan (Italy)

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