A History of Library Services at City of Hope

Library Building, undated [Courtesy of City of Hope Archives]

Library Building, undated
[Courtesy of City of Hope Archives]

Leaders and supporters of City of Hope recognized the importance of a library and the services it could provide to the sanatorium’s patients by approving and funding a dedicated library building in 1934.  Planning began in earnest with construction underway in early 1935.  On July 6 those attending the national convention gathered to dedicate the building.

The library’s focus expanded starting in 1938 when City of Hope made application for recognition by the American Medical Association.  A medical library was one of the requirements for recognition.  The Board of Directors approved a $50 appropriation (approximately $800 in today’s dollars) to cover the costs, such as subscriptions and books, in order to start a small library.

With the additions of the Hillquit Memorial Hospital (1938) and the De Vorkin Memorial Hospital (1941), the merging of the Ex-Patients Home and the planned new Medical Center, the library faced increasing demands for its services.  In a 1947 article “Our Library,” which appeared in the patient newsletter The Sanscript,* Rose Schoenfeld (the librarian and a former patient), identified books as one of the most important item for patients after medical care, food, and rest.  She noted, “…from the very sickest to the most fully recovered, patients can read without medical consultation or restriction.”

Stay tuned.  Part II of this series will focus on the shift from a tuberculosis sanatorium to a national medical center which included research and postgraduate education in the late 1940s leads to a need for a medical and scientific library.

*”Our Library” appeared in the September 1947 issue of The Sanscript.  The Archives has copies of the newsletter, February 1947 – February 1948 and March 1949.


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