Today is the anniversary of the death (in 1913) of John Shaw Billings.  He was a young Civil War surgeon who, after 1865, took charge of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office, which he developed into the best medical library in the world.  He produced the Index-Catalog of the book collection and began Index Medicus, the first comprehensive index of journal articles.

Billings went on to work in public hygiene and hospital design (Johns Hopkins University Hospital among others) and planned the New York Public Library, but is best known for his work in medical bibliography and in building the great library that became NLM.  I bet he'd love PubMed!

In May, 2004 NLM gave us IndexCat : Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office, 1880-1961 - .  

There's a great quote from Billings - when faced with the daunting task of cataloging the library, he said "Only begin."   I think of every time I have to start a huge, horrible project.  Hooray for JSB.


Patricia Kahn, MLS, AHIP
Niles Perkins Health Science Library
Penobscot Bay Medical Center
Six Glen Cove Drive
Rockport ME 04856

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