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TL v59n1: History of the Baptist Hospital Medical Library
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Tennessee Libraries 

Volume 59 Number 1



 History of the Baptist Hospital Medical Library


Marilyn Teolis, Medical Librarian Coordinator

Saint Thomas Health Services, Baptist Hospital Campus, Nashville, TN


What began as a room of physician donated materials has become a technologically advanced center of medical knowledge and resources.  In the beginning days of the Baptist Hospital Medical Library, Miss Cecil Elliott, a retired school librarian, volunteered full time from 1983 well into her mid 80’s and eventually retired in1996.  Her days were happily filled sitting cross-legged on the floor re-shelving books or laboring for hours copying articles for the medical staff. Each book and journal had been donated by members of the medical staff. 

In 1989, the Baptist Hospital Medical Library was given new direction by the incoming Vice President of Continuing Medical Education, Jim Farris, PhD.  A library advisory committee was created and a new focus of the library was determined.  It was at this time the library shifted from donated materials to strategically selected materials that would support the growing needs of our medical staff, clinical staff and patients. The library committee made a decision to keep primary journals such as JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine etc. for 10 years and other titles for 5 years.  A letter was sent to all the medical staff asking if anyone had any concerns about this decision.  No one objected.  During this time, the library was located in a small room that did not permitted more than a few people in at a time.  

In 1993, the library gained its first professional librarian, Ms. Priscilla Stephenson.  Ms. Stephenson inventoried the journals, created a print journal list, and added Baptist’s holdings to SERHOLD within the first month.  In the early 1990s, the utilization of technology within the library was just beginning.  As many others, we began our first electronic DataTrek (now known as EOSi) catalog conversion project, utilized MEDLINE that was only available by CD, and Ms. Stephenson used her personal email account because only a few departments could have email.  With the expansion of the resources and the utilization of technology, the library had out grown its current location.  Ms. Stephenson worked on the plans for the new library which was to be in a renovated space of the Gladys Stringfield Owens Education Center, where the library lived until October 2009.

While conducting the search for a new Baptist Hospital Medical Library, Patricia Carney and Mary Nichols each worked part time sharing the job of the librarian.  When Pat Carney moved away, Katherine Young was hired to work with Ms. Nichols.  A part time secretary and clerical assistant was hired in September 1996. Ms. Carol Barnes answered the phones and was trained to fill interlibrary loans.  In 1996, Marilyn Teolis was hired to replace Ms. Stephenson.   

Ms. Teolis went to work advancing the technologies available to meet the needs of the medical staff.  Within a month she obtained the database online through Ovid Technologies.  The Baptist physicians were extremely enthusiastic about the product and became early adopters.  Additionally, The Baptist Hospital Medical Library was one of the first hospitals in the area to institute Ariel for interlibrary loans.  In 1999, the Medical Library entered an agreement with the University of Alabama to implement its own digital library.  The co-directors of the project were Dr. Steven L. MacCall and Dr. Ana D. Cleveland.   

Since the new millennium, The Baptist Hospital Medical Library has experienced several changes.  Baptist Hospital was acquired by Saint Thomas Health Services and became a member of Ascension Health.  Ascension Health is the nation's largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system, serving patients through a network of hospitals and related health facilities.  Dr. Robert Hardin, the Chief Medical Officer, was given oversight of the library until his retirement in December of 2007.  Dr. William Thompson, the new Chief Medical Officer, had a fresh vision for the library.  Since his arrival, he has transformed the library from a traditional space located in the basement to a critical location for our users near the main entrance of the hospital.  The new ”Library as Place” grand opening is scheduled for October 20, 2009. 

In January of 2009, the medical libraries of Saint Thomas Health Services including The Baptist Hospital Medical Library, The Julius Jacobs Health Sciences Library at Saint Thomas Hospital and the Robert M. Ranson Medical Library at Middle Tennessee Medical Center merged to become one department and work collectively under the leadership of Ms. Jessica Wells, System Director of Continuing Medical Education.   In addition to the new and updated location for the Baptist Hospital Medical Library, the STHS libraries have increased their web presence with the creation of new electronic resources, the utilization of remote access, online help and user tutorials.

The Baptist Hospital Medical Library looks forward to the future with anticipation, and will continue in its tradition of supporting the mission of Baptist Hospital, and serving the patients, families, physicians, clinical staff and employees with enthusiasm and pride.  

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