Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, N.Y.). Gustave L. and Janet W. Levy Library

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Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, N.Y.). Gustave L. and Janet W. Levy Library

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The history of libraries at Mount Sinai begins in 1879, when a small circulating library of approximately 1,200 volumes was established for the benefit of patients at The Mount Sinai Hospital. The history of the Levy Library we know today, however, begins in 1883, when Dr. Alfred Meyer proposed the establishment of a medical library. As a former resident who had recently been made an Attending Physician, Dr. Meyer believed that ready access to up-to-date medical literature would be of great value to the house staff. A collection was taken and a Mount Sinai Hospital Library with approximately 10,000 volumes was established. In 1910 the Library was renamed the Jacobi Library in honor of Dr. Abraham Jacobi, who was then celebrating his fiftieth year of association with Mount Sinai.

During its first half century, the Library was administered by Mount Sinai physicians and operated by a nonprofessional library staff. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, medical librarianship was becoming an increasingly complex discipline, and in 1946 the Hospital hired Claire Hirschfeld as its first full-time, professional librarian. The collection and staff of the library continued to grow throughout the Fifties and in 1962 the Library facilities in the Outpatient Department Building on Madison Avenue underwent a major modernization. Following the dissolution of The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in 1971, the Jacobi Library took over the nursing collection that had previously been the responsibility of a separate Nursing School library.

With the opening of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1968, the Library expanded its collection focus to include the support of undergraduate medical education and basic science research. Plans were made for a permanent library facility in the Annenberg Building. With the support of a grant from the National Library of Medicine, a temporary branch library was established in the Basic Sciences Building, the first home of the medical school. Dr. Alfred Brandon, director of the medical library at Johns Hopkins, was engaged as a consultant to oversee this transition. In 1969 he was recruited away from Hopkins and became Director of the Mount Sinai Medical Center library and Chairman of the school’s newly established Department of Library Science.

During the summer of 1974 a new library facility was opened for use on the tenth and eleventh floors of the Annenberg Building. The collections and staff of the Jacobi and branch libraries were merged into a single unit in the new space. On November 22, 1974 this new facility was formally dedicated as the Gustave L. & Janet W. Levy Library.

Alfred Brandon left in 1973 and was replaced by Rachael K. Goldstein, previously an Associate Librarian at the Library. In 1975, the Department of Library Science was dissolved and the Library was made a part of the Department of Medical Education. In 1979, Rachael Goldstein left to become Health Sciences Librarian at Columbia and was succeeded by Jane Port, previously Associate Director, who served until 1983. In 1983, Lynn Kasner Morgan was hired as Library Director.

During the 1970s and 1980s the Library expanded to keep pace with new technologies. In 1977 the Library opened an Audiovisual Center. This evolved during the next decade to include microcomputer services and medical education computer-assisted instruction, eventually becoming the Media Resource Center. In 1985 the Library introduced a computerized catalog and the following year an automated checkout system was implemented. The decade also saw an increasing concern with documenting Mount Sinai’s history; in 1986 the Mount Sinai Archives was established and a full-time professional archivist was hired.

Starting in the late 1980s the Library increasingly focused on computer technology, providing a growing number of databases, CD-ROM and network services. The tenth floor was reconfigured to provide a computer classroom space in which patrons could be trained to access new information sources. In 1991 the Department of Academic Computing became a division of the Library. That same year the Library began providing access to the Internet, and in 1995 the Library established its first World Wide Web presence. The computer-assisted instruction staff of the Media Resource Center worked closely with Mount Sinai faculty to select, implement and oversee Web-based medical education services at the School of Medicine. In 2006 the Library started a blog.

In 2009, the Library renovated its facilities, adding additional study areas, new computer classrooms and an integrated service desk. That year the Library also became responsible for creating and implementing a records management program for the Medical Center.

Chronology of Library Directors:
Alfred N. Brandon, 1969-1973 – Library Director, Chairman of Department of Library Science
Rachael K. Goldstein, 1974-1979 – Library Director, Chairman of Department of Library Science [1974-1975]
Jane Port, 1980-1983 – Library Director
Lynn Kasner Morgan, 1983-2012 – Library Director, Vice President for Information Technology, Associate Dean for Information Resources and Systems


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Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, N.Y.). Gustave L. and Janet W. Levy Library. Office of the Director

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Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, N.Y.). Gustave L. and Janet W. Levy Library. Office of the Director

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Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, N.Y.). Gustave L. and Janet W. Levy Library

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Culp, Robert W. “The Mount Sinai Hospital Library, 1883 to 1970.” Bull. Med. Libr. Assoc. 60(3) (July 1972).
Ludwig, Logan, “Health sciences libraries building survey, 1999-2009.” J. Med. Libr. Assoc. 98(2) (April 2010). [Contains contribution from Lynn Kasner Morgan on renovation of Levy Library.]
Morgan, Lynn K. “Alfred N. Brandon, 1922-1996.” Bull. Med. Libr. Assoc. 85(1) (January 1997).

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