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 later combined with the Baylor College of Medicine’s (BCM) small library in 1949 to form one larger, centralized library. As institutions joined the TMC, they also joined in sharing the resources of the TMC Library, thereby creating a unique consortial library arrangement – the first collaboration among institutions of the TMC.
The permanent building for this new library came shortly after in the early 1950’s, through the efforts of HAM and BCM. Jesse H. Jones made a personal gift for the construction of the building and in 1954, the “Jesse H. Jones Library Building” was dedicated with approximately 27,000 square feet of space over three floors. By 1975, a new addition to the building created 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 the Library operates under a DBA as The TMC Library.
During the digital explosion in the 1990’s, the Library added computerized classrooms and a lab for education classes, and carved out space on the first floor to make room for computer workstations for students and patrons. Tropical Storm Allison severely damaged the Library’s street level in 2001 where the classrooms and lab were, but the damage was repaired and flood walls and gates were added with assistance from FEMA.
Responding to the demands of the rapidly advancing internet domination, a considerable investment in technology ensued, and in 2004, wireless routers were added that managed to cover 45% of the building – in spite of three foot concrete floors in a building configured for a bygone era. Today, the library has the fastest wireless connection in the TMC and coverage is available throughout the building, including the outside plazas.
The Role of the Library Today
For millennium, libraries have been the core for learning and knowledge, and this is as true today as ever. What’s changed is how libraries function in today’s learning and educational environments, both as a place to be and as a resource for accessing accumulated knowledge. This change has taken libraries into new directions and revolutionized both their forms and functions. In today’s world, libraries are more than books and digital publications storehouses, they are dynamic interactive environments, with collaborative open study and learning spaces that encourage sharing of ideas and discoveries.
Today, the TMC Library is the fundamental starting point to access information resources, whether in print or digital format. It’s a trusted resource that teaches tools and techniques to sort through the millions of publications printed each year to find just the right ones that facilitate and support health sciences research, medical education and patient care. Authenticated users can access our strong collection electronically – anytime, anywhere, and on any device. But above all, there is no doubt that the Library is also still an active place to be as evidenced by the tens of thousands of visitors who visit the Library each year.