A recent Wellcome Library blog post made us wonder about the relative popularity of our collections. What collections are drawing the most attention now? Has that changed since the increase in our online finding aids? What other factors might be at play?
We examined user records for 2009-2010 and found that use of rare books is declining, possibly due to the number of digital books now available through the Medical Heritage Library and other projects. Use of archives and manuscripts is up — specifically, for those collections that have online guides, and even more specifically, for those collections that were recently opened to research. No surprises here.
So, who won the contest? John Rock, co-inventor, with Gregory Pincus, of the birth control pill– the fiftieth anniversary of which, not coincidently, occurred in 2010. Rock’s professional records (guide posted in 2007) were generated largely from his research activities and thus were useful to researchers seeking to learn more about his innovative work. His personal papers were donated by his family in 2009.
It has been a busy couple of years for the collection and for related reproductive rights and health collections; the second and third most-used collections last year were created by Alan Guttmacher (guide posted in 2005), pediatrician and early leader in International Planned Parenthood, and Robert Latou Dickinson (guide revised in in 2009) founder of the National Committee on Maternal Health and a sometime ally, sometime competitor of Margaret Sanger.
What are your predictions for this year? You might want to peruse the list of online guides before you comment!