The origins of the library date back to 1915, when the Houston Academy of Medicine (HAM) established a small library in downtown Houston to serve the Harris County Medical Society. This Library was combined with the Baylor College of Medicine’s (BCM’s) small library in 1949 to form a centralized collection. As more institutions joined the Texas Medical Center, they also shared the resources of the TMC Library, thereby creating a unique point of collaboration among the institutions of the TMC.
A permanent home for this new library was built in the early 1950’s, through the efforts of HAM and BCM. In 1954, the approximately 27,000 square foot, three-story “Jesse H. Jones Library Building” was dedicated. By 1975, a new addition to the building had added another 76,000 square feet for the Library’s growing collection. At this time, the Library officially became known as the Houston Academy of Medicine – Texas Medical Center Library. Today we use the shorter operating name, The TMC Library.
During the digital explosion of the 1990’s, the Library added computerized classrooms and a computer lab for users, and carved out space on the first floor to make room for more workstations for students and patrons. After Tropical Storm Allison severely damaged the Library’s street level in 2001, the damage was repaired, the archives were moved to a safer location, and flood walls and gates were added with assistance from FEMA.
In 2004, wireless routers were added to cover 45% of the building – in spite of the three-foot-thick concrete floors poured in the 1950’s. Today, the library has WiFi coverage throughout the building that also provides access in Weber Plaza and other nearby outdoor points.
The Role of the Library Today
For millennia, libraries have been fundamental to learning and knowledge. What’s changed is how libraries function in today’s educational environment, both as a place to study and as a place to access accumulated knowledge. In today’s world, libraries are more than book, journal or digital literature storehouses. They are dynamic, interactive environments, with collaborative, open study and learning spaces that foster the sharing of ideas and discoveries.
Today, the TMC Library provides and teaches the tools and techniques needed to filter relevant, authoritative information from the exponentially-growing literature, to support health sciences research, medical education, and patient care. Authenticated users can access our strong collection electronically – anytime, anywhere, and on any device. The Library is also an active place to be, as evidenced by thousands who walk through the doors each year to study, to do research, and to consult with our librarians and staff.