Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library History: Part Four
On October 4, 1971 the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library was dedicated, bringing health sciences library services to a permanent home at the University of Utah. From the beginning, we have been known for pioneering new ideas, new technologies, and innovative partnerships. This exhibition series will showcase our history, from the first health sciences library collection in 1908 to the present-day.
Part Four: 1990’s
Library in the Internet Age
The 1990’s saw the University of Utah campus community straddling the worlds of both digital and analog, moving into an era that had begun to expand the possibilities and applications of the internet. The previous decade demonstrated the library’s dedication to serving the health sciences campus through computer based learning: the first computer lab was installed in 1983; Infonet, a computer-based networking project that functioned as an early interlibrary loan program began in 1985; and Slice of Life was born in 1986.
This commitment to the use of computer technology in teaching and learning continued into 1992, during which the first Internet workshops were offered during InfoFair, an annual event that provided resources and education on computer services and applications to the campus community. The library hosted hands-on training and demonstrations of the very first versions of the Internet. Topics included: electronic communication, Telnet and File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and searching the Internet via Gopher, Wide Area Information Server (WAIS), and the World Wide Web (WWW). To assist these endeavors, the library’s instructional computing facilities were equipped with the very first high-speed campus data network connections.
Under the directorship of Wayne J. Peay, library faculty including Jeanne M. Le Ber, Joan M. Gregory, Nancy T. Lombardo, Sharon E. Dennis, Mary E. Youngkin, and Nina E. Dougherty developed and instructed courses on these subjects, made available to the wider campus community.
One of the strategies to demonstrate the value of computing networks was that the first real connections on campus were between the libraries… because the libraries were a resource that everyone wanted to get to. You could go to a library and it was a revelation that you could actually see what was at the other library and if it was checked out.
–Wayne J. Peay, former director, EHSL
Clifford C. and Mary Snyder Lectureship
InfoFair 1993 featured the first presentation of the
Clifford C. Snyder, M.D. and Mary Snyder Lecture
on current issues in information technology and
Entitled “Seamless Information Systems,” the lecture
was given by Mark E. Frisse, M.D. Recognized as a
pioneer of modern medical informatics, Dr. Frisse
saw the potential medical impact of the World Wide
Web, designing and building one of the first compre-
hensive clinical decision support systems that was
fully integrated with health care providers’ information
(Image of Clifford C. Snyder, M.D. and Mary Snyder. Dr.
Snyder was Professor of Surgery and founded the
Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the
School of Medicine in 1967. Digital Collections, Eccles
Health Sciences Library.)
The University of Utah GopherSpace website was one
of the first campus-wide on-line information systems.
Regarded as a predecessor to the World Wide Web, the
Gopher system, released in 1991, was designed to
distribute, search for, and retrieve documents in internet
protocol networks. With a menu-driven user interface,
Gopher combined document hierarchies with services
including search engines and gateways to other information
systems such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
The Eccles Health Sciences Library launched its own Gopher
server in May 1993. Information included calendars, library
catalogs and databases.
EHSL on the World Wide Web
The Eccles Health Sciences Library was the first health sciences library to
have a web site, created in 1994. It was designed and implemented by
Sharon E. Dennis, MLIS. It included features including access to MEDLINE,
electronic journals, and Full-Text/ IAC databases, the ability to renew materials
online, and an events calendar. The image on the right is from December 20,
1996, the earliest iteration available.
From 1995-2001, the Knowledge Weavers
Project produced innovative multimedia
resources which included tutorials, interactive
cases, animations and other multi-media methods
of delivery to support health sciences education.
Under the direction of Sharon Dennis, MLIS,
Principal Investigator and Suzanne Stensaas, PhD
and Co-principal Investigator, the Knowledge
Weavers Project also promoted education and
outreach activities including Slice of Life.
The Knowledge Weavers Project was sponsored
by the Eccles Health Sciences Library and supported
by a National Library of Medicine Grant (#1 G08
Initially, the Internet Navigator was a bit of a chicken verses the egg project. How can we teach people to use the Internet through a course on the Internet?
–Nancy Lombardo, Librarian, EHSL
EHSL 25th Anniversary
On Friday, October 4, 1996 the Eccles Health Sciences Library celebrated
its 25th Anniversary. Held outside the library, the program included remarks
from Walter Stevens (Dean, School of Medicine, University of Utah), Arthur K.
Smith (President, University of Utah), Spencer F. Eccles (Chairman, CEO of
First Security Corporation), David P. Gardner (President Emeritus, University
of Utah), and Wayne J. Peay (Director, Eccles Health Sciences Library). In
attendance was Priscilla Mayden, the first director of the Eccles Health
Sciences Library and champion of its construction 25 years earlier.
(Image at right: Spencer F. Eccles. Digital Collections, Eccles Health Sciences Library.)
(Images below: Spencer F. Eccles, Arthur K. Smith, David P. Gardner, and Wayne J.
Peay; Priscilla Mayden, former director of EHSL, and Wayne J. Peay;
EHSL 25th Anniversary attendees. Digital Collections, Eccles Health Sciences Library.)
Cyprus Libraries Project
In 1999, the Cyprus Medical Libraries partnered with the Eccles Health
Sciences Library at the University of Utah to provide access to an electronic
document delivery system and to create a full-text database of Cypriot cancer
and health literature.
The Cyprus Libraries Project was funded by a grant from the Middle East
Cancer Consortium, awarded to Kenning Arlitsch of the University of Utah’s
Marriott Library and Andreas Saava, the Cyprus National Medical Librarian.
In February of that year, Kenning Arlitsch and EHSL librarian Nancy T.
Lombardo travelled to Cyprus. They worked closely with Andreas Saava and
the Cyprus Medical Association to install equipment and train library
personnel to scan and catalog the entire Cyprus Medical Journal and a number
of health related journals and publications produced in Cyprus. They also
presented Internet and database training to the library community in Cyprus.
The articles were then cataloged in the EHSL library information system by
librarian Joan M. Gregory, which allowed for searching for the first time.
Full text articles were linked to the records, so once located, the articles
could be downloaded directly by the user.
The project led to an international interlibrary loan program that supported
libraries in more than a dozen countries. Eventually, for-profit publishers
restricted this sharing and the program ended.
Lombardo, N. T., Arlitsch, K., & Gregory, J.M. (Summer 2000). Cyprus Medical
Libraries Project: International Collaboration for Electronic Document Delivery
and Full-Text Database Development. Issues in Science and Technology
Librarianship. Article link.
(Image above right: Cyprus Libraries Project web page, Image bottom right:
University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)
Dr Marcus Jacobson Donation
Marcus Jacobson, Ph.D., prominent scholar of neurobiology
and anatomy, donated his large collection of books on the
history of embryology and neuroscience to the Eccles Health
Sciences Library in 1999. Dr. Jacobson came to the University
of Utah as Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy
from 1977-1989, and was named Professor of Neurobiology
and Anatomy in 1989.
(Images: Marcus Jacobson, Ph.D. and Jacobson collection.
Digital Collections, Eccles Health Sciences Library.)