(November 3, 2018) — Dahlgren Memorial Library (DML) has announced its 2018 READ Poster honorees and their selected books, illustrating the diverse array of interests and passions at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC).
With the addition of 24 new honorees, over 300 people have now been featured on READ posters. This year's selected books ranged from classics such as “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein to more recent hits including “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio and “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
READ Poster Campaign History
About 14 years ago under the leadership of then-director Jane Blumenthal, DML launched the READ Poster Campaign to promote the importance of reading books in the liberal arts and humanities. When Jett McCann, MLS, CKM, DM/AHIP, senior associate dean for knowledge management at Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSOM), assumed leadership of DML in 2007, he recalled seeing a similar program as early as his time in elementary school. The American Library Association had celebrities like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julie Andrews, who at the time was known for playing Mary Poppins, pose on posters with their favorite books.
The DML READ Poster campaign initially featured faculty, and was dedicated to the late John M. Eisenberg, MD, MBA, who served as chair of the department of medicine at GUSOM and as physician-in-chief at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Starting in 2007, the program was expanded to include a wider range of people in the GUMC community, including students, faculty and staff.
Eisenberg was a lover of books and believed students and physicians should read outside the traditional medical and scientific field. To start the collection, one of Eisenberg’s colleagues provided an endowment while his wife, Mrs. Eisenberg, provided a list of his favorite books. Mrs. Eisenberg and her sons recently visited GUSOM and were very pleased with how the collection has grown and endured.
The Eisenberg Collection now features works such as biographies, poetry, philosophy, literature and history — all curated to allow medical students and other visitors to DML to not only read books of personal interest, but also utilize topics in humanities to help them grapple with and contextualize some of the hardest questions in science and medicine.
In continuing to promote the importance of this cause, every year members of the GUMC community are recognized as READ honorees based on their demonstration of cura personalis, including a commitment to service, advocacy or mentoring. Honorees select a book of personal meaning to them, which DML purchases for the Eisenberg Collection. Honorees then pose for a portrait with the book they selected.
Becoming a READ Poster Honoree
While the process to become a READ poster honoree is not particularly competitive — one simply must be nominated and self nominations are accepted — students are really proud of the honor and even occasionally include it on their residency application, especially when there is a GUSOM alum on the other end of the interview process.
Names of potential honorees are gathered from GUSOM deans, the GUSOM Student Executive Council, past honorees and DML staff. Because of space, the DML Committee has limited selections to 20 students and 10 faculty and staff. Several members of the DML staff support this effort, including Eugennie Buckley and Kim Dao, who schedule and take the professional-quality photos.
Previous honorees have included nursing students and students from the Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies Program (GEMS) and the Special Master’s Program in Physiology (SMP). They have also included notable medical students, like one who was on active duty in the military for 10 years prior to medical school. In a lighthearted vein, Georgetown’s Jack the Bulldog was featured several years ago. His favorite book was “Anatomy of the Cat.”
Julius Wright, a dedicated DML custodian, appeared on a READ poster several years ago for his commitment to cura personalis.
“Julius has worried about every single medical student here. He knows many of them by name, they know him. He looks after their custodial needs. That’s just all part of what makes people and things work around here,” McCann said.
During the last Friday in October, National Medical Librarians Month, that year’s READ honorees are revealed in the Pre-Clinical Science Building hallway outside the entrance of the library. Hundreds stop by to see the posters, and some honorees even bring their children or parents.
One medical student READ honoree had his mom and dad drive all the way from Tennessee to be at Georgetown for the event, second only to graduation in their minds. Later, they took the poster back to that student’s elementary school library to hang on the wall.