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News From the Libraries: August 2022

New Art Exhibit Opening in September

Opening at Briscoe Library on September 19th, For the Love of Clay: Studies in Ceramic Form is an exhibition of ceramic art created by The Clay Collective. The Clay Collective consists of local San Antonio artists Carolyn Adams, Andy Bally, Virginia Bally, Maggie Fitch, Pam Moritz, and Vivian Paul. This exhibit will feature clay pieces made with wheel thrown, hand built, and sculpture techniques.


Stay tuned for more information about this exhibit.

Beards, Blood, and Broken Bones: The Curious Origin of the Barber Pole

These days a barber pole lets you know where you can get a trim, but hundreds of years ago, barbers offered far more than a shave and a haircut. 

Have a broken arm that needs setting? A tooth that needs to be pulled? Need to get some lousy blood out? 

Barber surgeons did all of this and more. Bloodletting was one of their main offerings, where minor cuts were made to the patient's body that were let to bleed under observation. It was believed this procedure would allow disease and other maladies in the blood out of the body and was used extensively for hundreds of years. 

So, where did the pole come from? 

Bloodletting patients would grip a pole to make their veins stand out for the procedure, much like phlebotomists today tie off an arm to draw blood. Barbers began using display versions of these poles outside their shops to advertise their services.  

The poles were also places where the bloody bandages of their trade were hung out to dry. Twisting in the wind, they created the familiar red-striped pattern over white.  In 1540, barbers and surgeons were required to distinguish their services by the color of their poles. Barbers used blue and white, surgeons red. 

Over time barbers dropped their medical and dental services, but the striped pole remains a lingering symbol of the long history of their trade. 

Want to learn more about the history of medicine? Visit the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, located on the 5th floor of Briscoe Library. 

Remembering Virginia Bowden

Virginia Bowden was a naturally driven individual with a passion for bringing change through innovation. She earned a B.A. in Math and Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.S.L.S degree from the University of Kentucky. While attending UT Austin, Virginia was one of the first students to take newly offered computer programming classes. With a knack for numbers, she began her library career as a Library Systems Analyst at UT Health San Antonio Library in 1970 during a time when library records were still in card catalogs and there was no computer access to Index Medicus. Dr. Bowden spent 33 years at the UT Health San Antonio Library, 18 of those years as Library Director, and in that time, she devoted many of her efforts to transforming the health sciences library into a place of outstanding service and innovative technologies.

Throughout her career, Virginia maintained an active role in the library community. She filled the roles of board member, chair, and president of many organizations and associations that are still in existence today, including but not limited to the following:

  • President of the Council of Research and Academic Libraries (CORAL) in San Antonio.
  • President of the South Central Regional Group of the Medical Library Association (SCRG/MLA) in 1981. SCRG was the precursor to SCC/MLA which was established some 20 years later.
  • Chair of the UT System Advisory Committee for Library Affairs
  • Chair of the ad hoc committee of UT System Health Sciences Libraries that led to the formation of the Texas Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries

Upon her retirement from UT Health San Antonio in 2003 Virginia stated, “Probably the most challenging area that I have discussed is the finances of library management and the seemingly constant increase in prices of scientific, technical, and medical publications. Despite the rising costs, a first-class library is a critical component of an excellent academic institution.” These are words that many of us can still relate to today.

In fall of 2021, with generous support from Virginia and husband Charles Bowden, the UT Health San Antonio Library launched the creation of a new innovative conference space that would facilitate multiformat meetings. The conference room officially named the Bowden Conference Room, opened in the spring of 2022, and offers state-of-the-art video and computing technology to support virtual and hybrid collaborations. The Bowden Conference Room stands as a tribute to the many contributions Virginia made to the Library and the UT Health SA community.

On May 2, 2022, we lost a pioneer in the health sciences library community. Virginia Bowden will always be remembered for her tenacity and personal determination to seek innovation and excellence in librarianship.

Featured New eBooks for August 2022

For a list of the newest titles at the Briscoe Library click here.

Purchase suggestions?
Complete the online Purchase Suggestion Form or contact
Andrea N. Schorr, Associate Director of Resource Management.