One hundred thirty-five years ago the National Library of Medicine had its humble origin when the US Army's first surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Lovell, budgeted "Medical Books for Office, $150." Gradually the collection of books and periodicals grew and moved from place to place with the surgeon general whose office in Washington was frequently shifted. It was not until 1865, following the assassination of President Lincoln, that the government bought the ill-fated Ford's Theater as an annex of the surgeon general's office, and the Surgeon General's Library found its first "permanent" lodging. Almost from the beginning the library served as a national resource for the medical profession, although it was not officially designated "The National Library of Medicine" until 1956. Ten years ago, Dec 14, 1961, dedication ceremonies were held in the modern building the library now occupies.
The library has three functions—archival, service, and innovative. It has a collection
The National Library of Medicine. JAMA. 1971;218(13):1937. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190260051015