Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Inside the Comics Collection of the World’s Largest Medical Library

Hyperallergic – “In 2016, the National Library of Medicine started collecting “graphic medicine” — materials that use comics to teach the public about illness and health. Millions of books, journals, manuscripts, and images fill the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s largest medical library, on the grounds of the National Institutes of Health. The documents cover the long history of medical research, the oldest dating all the way back to 11th century Persia. In 2016, the ever-growing collection started gathering one of the most recent forms of scientific literature: graphic medicine, which encompasses materials (mostly books) that use comics as a means of educating people about illness and health. In an effort to publicize its collection, and the overall importance of this emerging field, NLM has launched an exhibition. Graphic Medicine: Ill-conceived and Well Drawn! is a three-part project comprising a year-long display at the library, a traveling exhibition of explanatory banners, and a website with images from the collection and lesson plans for educators. The show was guest curated by cartoonist Ellen Forney, author of what’s probably the most well-known book in graphic medicine, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me…At a panel discussion about graphic medicine held at the NLM earlier this month — live-streamed and archived on the library’s website — Dr. Michael Green, a physician, bioethicist, and professor at Penn State University, said Forney’s DSM chart has proven helpful in teaching his students. (Green created the lesson plans for the library’s Graphic Medicine website.) MK Czerwiec, a nurse who began making comics while working in an AIDS unit in the 1990s, compared graphic medicine to airline safety cards, transcending the barriers of language. The separate speech and thought bubbles are particularly useful, she noted, in describing the delicate situations in which healthcare workers often find themselves. Toward the end of the conversation, Green said researchers are also trying to figure out whether these kinds of books can have an impact on health literacy, and perhaps even health outcomes…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.