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 various 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
Sarah Eilers
Erika Mills
Christie Moffatt
Ginny A. Roth
Krista Stracka

Photography Consultant
Stephen J. Greenberg

Collection Photography
Stephen J. Greenberg
Tory Detweiler


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 human health and disease. Spanning ten centuries and originating from nearly every part of the globe, our collections include:

  • A rapidly-growing digital collection of books, audiovisuals, still images, manuscripts, and oral histories.
  • Early Manuscripts dating as far back as the 11th century.
  • 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.
  • Modern Manuscripts, including the personal papers of such figures as Michael E. DeBakey, Bernadine Healy, Joshua Lederberg, Antonia Novello, and Marshall Nirenberg.
  • Organizational archives from such groups as the Medical Library Association and the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
  • Over 15,000 historical audiovisuals.
  • Over 150,000 historical prints and photographs.

four images drawn from the activities of the Exhibition ProgramThe Library celebrates its historical collections through its award-winning Exhibition Program. The program develops and presents exhibitions and multidisciplinary educational tools that make the National Library of Medicine’s historical collections available to audiences around the world. Through interactive exhibitions and special displays onsite, traveling banner shows that tour the country, and online K-12 and higher education resources, the Exhibition Program advances public awareness about medicine, science, and history. Exhibitions and special displays focus on a variety of topics including the history of forensic medicine; U.S. Civil War doctors, nurses, and disabled veterans; African-American academic surgeons; the history of women physicians; and the story of Frankenstein as it relates to medical ethics.

Detail from the cover of the Hidden Treasure bookThe Library also celebrates its historical collections through Hidden Treasure, a spectacular, 240-page, full-color book with 450 images and over 80 essays by distinguished scholars, artists, collectors, journalists, and physicians. Download a free copy of Hidden Treasure from NLM’s Digital Collections.

Learn more about the history of the National Library of Medicine through our new publication Images of America: U.S. National Library of Medicine, a book intended for a general audience, which illustrates the broad history of the Library from the early 19th century through the late 20th century through over 170 images from our own rich collections and several others. Download a free copy of this book from NLM’s Digital Collections.

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

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