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National Library of Medicine Receives Grant to Digitize "Medical Heritage" Works Dating Back to 17th Century

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library and an arm of the National Institutes of Health, has been named a partner in a multi-centered grant to digitize materials in the history of medicine.

As one of five libraries participating in the digital Medical Heritage Project, NLM will receive $360,000 over the next two months to digitize items from its historical medical collections. The initiative is funded by a $1.5 million award to the Open Knowledge Commons, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a universal digital library for democratic access to information, from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  

Approximately 30,000 volumes of public domain works will be digitized from the collections of some of the world's leading medical libraries: NLM, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University, the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library at Columbia University and the New York Public Library.

NLM will contribute digital versions of thousands of medical materials, including publications dating back to the 17th century.  

This project will eventually make resources permanent and freely available through a digital library. Plans are to include more library partners and provide Web access to the collection. 

The NLM History of Medicine Division collection includes 90 early western manuscripts (before 1600), 139 Arabic and Persian medical manuscripts, an East Asian collection of more than 2,000 printed books, manuscripts and visual materials, over 83,000 prints and photographs, all printed books in the NLM collection printed before 1914, thousands of later pamphlets and dissertations, and all pre-1871 journals.