History of Library
History of Medicine Collections | History of Library, Long | Timeline

The year 1999 marked the 80th anniversary of the organization of the OHSU Library by its first librarian, Bertha Hallam.

The OHSU Library originated as a donation to the University of Oregon Medical Dept. in 1893 of the personal book collections of two deceased Portland physicians: Rodney Glisan and R. B. Wilson. From 1893 to 1919 it was known as the R. B. Wilson Library and was located in the U. of O. Medical Dept. building at N.W. 23rd and Lovejoy, across the street from Good Samaritan Hospital. A photo from the Library's historical photo collection shows the Library as it looked around 1912, located in the rear of the Physiology Dept. The original books are located now in the History of Medicine Room, integrated with the other historical books.

The Dental branch library, renamed the Van Hassel Library in 1999, began also in 1893, or shortly thereafter, in the Tacoma College of Dental Surgery in Tacoma, Washington. It was moved to Portland in 1899 with the relocation of that College.

By 1919 the R. B. Wilson Library had grown to about 4000 volumes. Bertha Hallam (librarian,1919-1965) became the first librarian in January 1919. Hallam moved the Library in summer 1919 from the N.W. 23rd and Lovejoy location to the second floor of the nearly completed Medical Science Building on Marquam Hill. This building is now the east wing of Mackenzie Hall. In 1922, a larger wing was added to the building, oriented west-east, and the entire structure was renamed Mackenzie Hall. Hallam moved the Library that year up to the third floor of the new addition into a room on the north side. Here it remained through the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1937, Dr. John Weeks, a new member of the Library committee, announced a monetary gift for building a separate library building on campus. Funded by Dr. Weeks' gift and funds from the Rockefeller Foundation and the U.S. Public Works Administration, the new Library building was completed in 1939. Hallam moved the Library from Mackenzie into the new building in October that year. It was dedicated on June 7, 1940. The 1939 building is now called the Auditorium building and is used to house part of the Library collection and for School of Medicine activities.

In 1956 a new Dental School building was constructed on Marquam Hill, and the Dental library moved to its current location on the sixth floor of the building. The Dental library was renovated in fall 1998.

Margaret Hughes (librarian, 1965-1975) became the second librarian when Hallam retired in 1965. During Hughes' ten years as librarian, there was a large expansion of the office and book stack space in the building. New technology such as remote database searching and electronic interlibrary loan communication was introduced. Library departments were formed as new staff were added. In 1974, a year before Hughes retired, the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center was formed by the consolidation of the School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, and School of Nursing. The Dental library became a branch of the UOHSC Library.

The CDRC branch library began to form probably around 1957 and eventually was given a room of its own specifically designated as the library in 1971 with the completion of a new clinical building immediately east of the older Crippled Children's Division building. It is still in this room on CDRC's third floor. It became an OHSU Library branch in 1990.

James Morgan (librarian, 1976-present) became the third librarian in 1976.

The Historical Book Room was renovated in 1977 which gave it the appearance it has today. The room had earlier been furnished and dedicated as the Historical Book Room in 1964. It was renamed the History of Medicine Room in 1979.

The Oregon Health Information Network (OHIN) was begun by the Library in 1979 to develop hospital libraries and library services in Oregon.

In 1981, a new History of Dentistry Room was completed in the Dental library to house an historical dental book collection that is the only collection of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

In the late 1970s, the Library entered an era of accelerated automation and computerization, culminating in 1989 in the conversion to an integrated library system which integrated many library functions efficiently in one computer system. The Library also initiated electronic services to the campus in 1988, such as an early version of email and end-user searching of a locally- customized version of Medline.

The Library moved into the newly completed Biomedical Information Communication Center building in September 1991. The building was dedicated on November 8, 1991. The BICC is the realization of a decade of planning for an IAIMS system at OHSU, an integrated academic information management system. It was funded by a federal appropriation arranged by U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield. The BICC consolidates and improves diverse functions of library operations, computer training and support, photography, video and distance learning, medical informatics and outcomes research and education, and advanced computer, network, and telecommunications technology for OHSU and the people it serves.

The Library became a member of PORTALS in 1992, a consortium of local libraries, mostly academic, formed for the purpose of increasing access to library catalogs and licensed databases while containing costs.

During the 1990s the Library has been involved from an early stage in the development of the university-wide web page system initiated in 1996, the consumer health resource center begun in 1996 (called Health Information Library and previously located in the OHSU Hospital, ninth floor), the oral history and archives project begun in 1997, the Center for Women's Health library begun in 1998, the distance learning Virtual Learning Center begun in 1998, and the new Doernbecher Hospital library in 1998. Fall 1999 the Library began hosting the library catalog of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine on the same server as the OHSU Library catalog. Immediately ahead is the merging of the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center library into OHSU Library operations as a branch library.

More historical facts about the Library can be found in the long version of the History of the Library.

Last updated July 24, 2009 by the OHSU Library Web Managers. Please send comments, questions, and reports of problems to the Library through the customer support form.