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Book and Media Reviews
August 8, 2012

Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

Author Affiliation: Department of Life Science, John A. Logan College, Carterville, Illinois (

JAMA. 2012;308(6):625-626. doi:10.1001/jama.308.6.625

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) was established in 1836. To celebrate its 175th anniversary, the library gave itself and readers a marvelous gift. Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine is a visually voluptuous volume of objects excavated from the library's vast collection of medically important items, along with some fascinating medical curiosities.

Although perhaps more associated with its Internet services and online publications such as PubMed,,the Visible Human Project, and MedlinePlus, the NLM contains a collection of items from all over the world, dating back to the 11th century. Many of these objects are treasures in the truest sense of the word; others have historical and cultural significance. Some are simply quaint or outlandish. Hidden Treasure is a sampling of NLM “stuff ” that sometimes defies written description.