About the Library

One Community/One Book 2016: God’s Hotel: Hear the Author

Photograph of Dr. Victoria SweetAbout the Author

Victoria Sweet, MD, PhD is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Following her BS in Mathematics from Stanford University and her MD from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Dr. Sweet earned an MA and a PhD in the History of the Health Sciences from the University of California, San Francisco. Her research focuses on the 12th-century German abbess, composer, theologian, visionary, and medical practitioner Hildegard von Bingen.

In God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine, the author weaves stories of her experiences caring for patients at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, the last almshouse in the country, with her studies of medieval medicine. In the process, Dr. Sweet comes to appreciate the importance of slow medicine and the efficiency of inefficiency.

Hear the Author

Dr. Victoria Sweet will present The Ewing Halsell Distinguished Lecture in the Holly Auditorium on the Long Campus of the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio on the evening of Thursday, March 17, 2016. A reception will be held at 5:30 pm with the author’s presentation at 6:00 pm and a book signing to follow at 7:00 pm.

To register for free for this event, visit http://www.texashumanities.org/.

Copies of God’s Hotel will be available for purchase at the event through the UT Health Science Center San Antonio Bookstore.

For a preview, consider viewing Dr. Victoria Sweet’s TEDx Middlebury presentation: The Efficiency of Inefficiency.

For more information on One Community/One Book, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

One Community/One Book 2016: God’s Hotel: Join the Conversation

Conversation is the heart of One Community/One Book.

The Briscoe Library will offer a workshop on February 2, 2016 at 12 Noon in the Howe Conference Room to support discussion group leaders and to encourage dialogue about the book. This event is open to faculty, staff, and students of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, as well as members of the broader community, who are interested in planning a book discussion opportunity. Register online.

Book discussions will be held throughout February and March, leading up to Dr. Victoria Sweet’s visit to campus on March 17, 2016. Details about book discussion groups can be posted to this page by submitting the Discussion Group Registration Form. Please be sure to print out a Discussion Group Sign-In Sheet and e-mail the completed form to Lisa Matye Finnie. These sign-in sheets are an important part of the evaluation and reporting process for One Community/One Book. In addition, A Reader’s Guide with Suggested Questions for Discussion, adapted by Penguin Books USA, is available to help get the conversation going!

Resources for Discussion Group Leaders

Facilitator and Host Training Workshop

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
12:00 Noon – 1:00 pm
Briscoe Library – UT Health Science Center San Antonio
Howe Conference Room (5th Floor)
Register Online

Book Discussion Groups

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
12:00 Noon – 1:00 pm
Briscoe Library – UT Health Science Center San Antonio
Collaboratory (4th Floor)
RSVP to Adelita Cantu, PhD, RN

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
NPR Book Club
Forest Hills Public Library
5245 Ingram Road inside Loop 410
Contact Pegeen Seger, Head of Outreach Services, for more information

Thursday, February 18, 2016
12:00 Noon – 1:00 pm
Briscoe Library – UT Health Science Center San Antonio
Howe Conference Room (5th Floor)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Ya Ya’s Thai Restaurant
8085 Callaghan Road at IH 10 W

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Held in partnership with the Garden & Health Interest Group and the Discussions in Medical Ethics Group
Briscoe Library – UT Health Science Center San Antonio
Healing Garden (weather permitting) or Howe Conference Room (5th Floor)
RSVP to Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian

For more information on One Community/One Book, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

One Community/One Book 2016: God’s Hotel: The Book

To Read the 2016 One Community/One Book Selection God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine by Victoria Sweet:

Cover Photograph of God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet

For more information on One Community/One Book, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

One Community/One Book 2017

“When Breath Becomes Air”: A Conversation with Lucy Kalanithi

Lucy Kalanithi, MD, whose husband, Paul Kalanithi, MD, wrote the hauntingly beautiful memoir “When Breath Becomes Air” as a meditation on his life and approaching death at age 37, speaks at the UT Health San Antonio Holly Auditorium from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 23.

Please register for this free event here or at www.TexasHumanities.org.

Dr. Kalanithi’s presentation is the 2017 Ewing Halsell Distinguished Lecture. The reading and interview-style discussion will be moderated by physician-author Jerald Winakur, MD. A book-signing and catered reception will follow, and Continuing Medical Education credit is available.

One Community/One Book: Find Out More

OCOB Banner

Culture Dish: Rebecca Skloot’s Blog

Other Writings

Some Related Articles Indexed in PubMed

Reviews of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library Policies

UT Health Science Center Libraries Special Collections


Procedures for Use of P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library and the University Archives

The P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library and the University Archives is open to lay and professional researchers by appointment from Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, except on university holidays. The following procedures help preserve the material in the collections for future generations. Your understanding and cooperation is appreciated.

  1. The P. I. Nixon Library Reading Room is reserved for those using materials from the Special Collections. Rare books and archives may not be checked out or removed from the Reading Room.
  2. All patrons must register with the Special Collections staff and complete and sign a Research Agreement. Picture identification is required.
  3. Special Collections materials may be used only under supervision of Special Collections staff, who will assist patrons in identifying material to be reviewed and who will retrieve requested material for patrons.
  4. Library staff must be present in the Reading Room during the use of archival materials and rare books. Please notify Special Collections staff when you arrive and return materials to staff when you leave.
  5. Appointments are required if specific materials are requested, staff need to know in advance as some materials are stored in remote locations. Call 210-567-2470 or email SpecialCollections@uthscsa.edu to make an appointment.
  6. No bags, brief cases, purses, notebooks, folders, binders, coats, or other personal property are allowed in the Reading Room. These should be given to Special Collections staff for safe keeping and will be returned when materials are turned back in. Personal computers are permitted, but computer carrying cases must be placed with staff.
  7. Use only pencil or personal computers for taking notes. No other writing implements or markers are allowed in the Reading Room during materials use. Do not mark materials in any way or fold pages.
  8. Only loose sheets of paper are allowed in the Reading Room for note taking and will be provided by staff.  PostIt NotesTM are not allowed. Patrons must present all material to Special Collections staff for checking prior to departure.
  9. Food and drink are not allowed in the Reading Room except for special functions approved by the Library.
  10. Unless special arrangements are made beforehand, no more than 2 books and/or 2 manuscript boxes will be retrieved at a time. No items will be retrieved after 4:00 pm.
  11. Cameras are welcome, but flash photography is not allowed.  Photography must be supervised by Special Collections staff and permission must be obtained for publication or reproduction of any Special Collections materials.
  1. Archival materials and rare books must be handled with great care. Staff will monitor the use and handling of materials at all times. Proper handling guidelines include, but are not limited to:
    • Handle papers one at a time, using both hands for support, and stack papers carefully. Do not pick up a stack of papers and tap them on the table to straighten them. If a document is in fragile condition, please request assistance from a staff member.
    • Do not make any marks, erasures, or any other changes on a document.
    • Keep all items on the table while being used. Place nothing in the lap or propped against the table. Staff can provide book cradles or supports for better viewing of books.
    • Place nothing on top of archival materials or books. Do not write on top of, fold anew, or trace materials.
    • Turn pages slowly and carefully, touching only the margins if possible.
    • Wear the cotton gloves provided when handling photographs and wash hands prior to handling rare books.
    • Notify staff if you notice any irregularities or incongruities in the description of the material and the actual material, or if you notice damaged materials.
  1. Tours of the Nixon Library can be arranged.  We welcome groups.

Note regarding photocopying and digitization: Staff will digitize or photocopy a portion of text for patrons. Some materials cannot be copied due to their condition or other restrictions. Materials larger than 11” X 17” will not be photocopied. Photocopies or digitization may be ordered at the time of visit and should be ready within 24 hours. There is no charge for Health Science Center personnel. Non-UT Health Science Center users will be charged 25 cents per photocopy or $25.00 per picture digitized, collected in advance. Fees may be charged for digitization of other materials, depending on the purpose and the amount of materials requested.

Please note that access to the collections of the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library and the University Archives does not imply permission to copy, quote, publish, or otherwise make public use of any part of the collection. The researcher assumes the responsibility to secure such permissions, including permission from the UT Health Science Center Libraries, prior to use.


P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

Interior photograph of the Nixon Library

The Special Collections of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

The P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio houses approximately 6,000 rare and classic texts in the history of medicine, nursing, dentistry, and other health care disciplines, dating from the 15th to early 20th centuries. TheHoAClass2016_6 Nixon Library also houses the University Archives and a small collection of local historical documents.

The Nixon Library is located on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library and is open by appointment Monday through Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Tours of the Nixon Library, including viewings of the rare books, can also be arranged by making an appointment. For more information contact Andrea N. Schorr, Head of Collection Resources at (210) 567-2403 or specialcollections@uthscsa.edu.

Please review the Special Collections Policy prior to your visit.

A Brief History

San Antonio physician and historian Dr. Pat Ireland Nixon was the founder of the Bexar County Medical Library Association in 1919. Dr. Nixon was an avid collector of rare books, and his efforts helped the Bexar County Medical Library accumulate a large collection of historical medical books. This collection of books was donated to the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio, Texas in 1970. The collection was named after Dr. Nixon in honor of his tireless efforts to build it, and is housed in the Briscoe Library. Strengths of the Nixon collection are in the areas of ophthalmology, surgery, and anatomy. To learn more about Dr. Pat Ireland Nixon, visit the P.I. Nixon information page.


Rare Books

Originally donated to the Health Science Center in the early 1970s by the Bexar County Medical Society, the superb core collection of over 6,000 volumes includes original works by Andreas Vesalius (De Humani Corporis Fabrica – 1543), Bernhard Siegfried Albinus (Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body – 1749), Aulus Cornelius Celsus (De Medicina – 1481), Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (The Canon of Medicine – 1486), Robert Burton (Anatomy of Melancholy – 1632), and Robert Hooke (The Micrographia – 1667).

The library regularly features a historical book of the month on the Treasures of the P.I. Nixon Historical Blog


University Archives

The University Archives serves as a repository for the preservation of historically significant university records and contains over 531 linear feet of publications, papers, and other records that document the history of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Items in this collection include university publications, correspondence from key officials, meeting minutes, yearbooks, videos, photographs, oral histories, and more.

Local Historical Documents

The Nixon Library also houses several manuscript collections that are related to the history of medicine and health care in Bexar County and South Texas. The manuscripts range in years from 1800-1930, and many include photographs, letters, and journals. Visit the Archives Projects page to view a list of archival collections that have been digitized.

Finding aids for many of our archival collections can be found on the Texas Archival Resources Online Repository.

For more information about the Archives visit the Archives Policies page. To make an appointment to view archival materials contact Mellisa DeThorne, Special Collections Assistant, at 210-567-2470 or dethorne@uthscsa.edu.

Digital Archive

Visit the Digital Archive

Select materials from the Nixon Library have been digitized and added to the library’s Digital Archive. The Digital Archive consists of four main collections: History of Medicine, University History, Electronic Theses, Dissertations, and DNP projects, and University Records. Each of these collections promotes and preserves historically significant resources and facilitates learning and creativity. To learn more about these collections visit the Digital Archive page.

For questions about the library’s Digital Archive contact the digital archive team at DigitalArchive@uthscsa.edu.

The Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

Interested in learning more about the history of medicine? Join the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library group. The Nixon Library has an active Friends group that meets regularly to view presentations and discuss a variety of topics about the history of medicine. Membership is open to all. For more information, visit the Friends page.

The Friends group has also purchased a collection of popular books about the history of medicine which are available for check-out. The books highlight significant periods and events in medical history and are located in the library’s general collection. To view a complete list of titles and locations click here.


Past Events at the Libraries

One Community/One Book

One Community/One Book 2104: Redeployment

One Community/One Book Spring 2013: Join the Club

One Community/OneBook 2012: Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

2012’s book selection was Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child by Elva Treviño Hart. Visit the event page for more information about the book and the talk.

One Community/One Book 2010: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

2010’s One Community/One Book was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The author spoke at the Frank Bryant Jr., MD Memorial Lecture on October 15th, 2010.

One Community / One Book 2009: Final Exam

“Dr. Pauline Chen’s Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality was the One Community/ One Book selection for 2009. Dr. Chen spoke at Transplant Center grand rounds on the Morning of September 25, and later received a standing ovation for her noon-hour talk in the Parman Auditorium. More than 100 people—students, faculty and staff, participated in planned discussion groups in the weeks leading up to Dr. Chen’s talk. For more information about 2009’s programs, visit the information page.

One Community / One Book 2008: Mountains Beyond Mountains

Be a part of the One Community / One Book 2008. Read the book Mountains Beyond Mountains and then participate in program activities. For a schedule of activities and information about the book visit the One Community / One Book information page.

Other Events

Illustration of medieval medical practices by Hieronymus Brunschwig, 1494

Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine

From October 11th-November 6th 2010 the Libraries hosted Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine, a traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine and the American Library Association.

The exhibit used materials from the NLM’s historical collections to explore Harry Potterls world and its roots in Renaissance traditions. View further information about this past event.

Photographers/Disaster Documentation Representatives: Robert Zuniga & Walter Creech

Walter Creech–Office Phone: 210-567-2462

Emergency Contact Information is on the Staff Intranet (not publicly available)

Duties related to Disaster Planning and Recovery

  • Maintains an inventory of library possessions
  • Photographs the damage to the collections and library contents, as well as damage to the building, if appropriate
  • Maintains a photographic record of recovery efforts


Back to Library Disaster Team list.

Policies for Emergency Closure


Before closing the library, always contact the Senior Library Director and the VP for Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs’ office (210-567-2004) for approval to close.  In the event of an emergency or campus closure, the Office of the President well send an HSC Alert through email and text message to mobile telephones. If the announcement says that only essential personnel must report to work, the Library will be closed. All staff are expected to sign up for HSC Alerts in order to be notified of campus closures.

The UT Health Science Center Handbook of Operational Procedures (http://www.uthscsa.edu/hop2000/8.3.1.pdf) outlines procedures for closing of the campus due to severe weather or during an emergency.  Campus Status information can be found on this site: http://www.uthscsa.edu/status.asp.

Notifications: If the library does not open on time or has an early closure, library staff will notify the public of any closures and status of the library through Web site updates, phone messages, social media and signage.

Inclement weather:  During business hours, the Library will close if the University President or his designee declares a campus closure and cancellation of classes due to extreme weather or an emergency or disaster.  After 5 pm or on weekends the Senior Library Director or his designee has authority to close the Library in case of extreme weather or an emergency.  Hours of work missed will be recorded as Administrative Leave. However, if an employee received prior approval for vacation or sick leave, then the absence will be recorded as vacation or sick leave, respectively.

The Library will open if the weather is severe but the campus is not closed.  Staff members are expected to make every reasonable effort to report to work.  If staff cannot safely make it to work, they should notify their supervisor by telephone immediately.  Hours of work missed if the campus is not closed will be handled like other absences and charged to vacation leave, or pay will be reduced.

Physical disaster that poses a threat to lives or property:  the Library will be evacuated and will close immediately.

Power failure:  University Police should be contacted at 7-2800. In the event of a power failure, the following guidelines apply:


Daylight Hours After Dark
Library will remain open for 30 minutes, to allow time for power to be restored Library will remain open for 15 minutes to allow time for power to be restored
After 30 minutes, the Library will be evacuated After 15 minutes the Library will be evacuated
Library staff must remain in contact for one additional hour Library staff must remain in contact for one additional hour
If the power is off for a total of 90 minutes, then the Library may be closed and staff sent home If power is not restored after a total of 30 minutes, then the Library will be closed and staff sent home
If power is restored earlier than 6 hours prior to closing time, night or weekend staff must return to re-open the Library If power is restored earlier than 6 hours prior to closing time, night or weekend staff must return to re-open the Library


Telephone outage:  As long as there is access to a cell phone to call UT Police, the library will remain open.

Water shutdown:  If the water is shut down in only the library building, the library will remain open. If the shutdown affects the Library and lecture hall buildings, then the Library will close due to unavailability of restrooms. If water is restored earlier than 6 hours prior to closing time, Library staff will return to re-open the Library.

Air conditioning shutdown: Generally, the Library will not close if the air conditioning is down for just a few hours or overnight. The decision to close is at the discretion of the Senior Library Director, and can be based upon the outside temperature at the time.


Back to Disaster Plan