News from the Libraries

News from the Libraries

Featured New Books/E-books for October 2017

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, Head of Resource Management.



Believing in Race: Its Legacy in Our Nation’s Health

Presentation at the 47th Annual Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library Dinner

Believing in Race: Its Legacy in Our Nation’s Health

Speaker: Dr. Jill Fleuriet

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Jill Fleuriet is a cultural and medical anthropologist. She is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Associate Dean of the Honors College at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Her roots are in South Texas. She grew up in Harlingen, Texas, in a family with a long history of professional and volunteer service. She earned her BA in Anthropology from Harvard College, MA from San Diego State University, MA from Stanford University, and PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University. What drew her to UTSA remains her primary professional motivation: to engage in research, teaching, and service that help to understand sociocultural processes that influence ethnic and gendered health disparities in South Texas. In 2015, Dr. Fleuriet won the UTSA President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence and in 2016, won the UTSA President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Community Engagement. This summer, Dr. Fleuriet was honored with the prestigious UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

Where: Old San Francisco Steak House | 10223 Sahara Street

Located north of Loop 410. From San Pedro, turn right onto Sahara Street.

Cost: $55 per person, $35 for students

Paid sponsorships for students are available on request. Advance registration is required.

Register online at:



$500 Student Essay Award

Painting of Avicenna

Avicenna c.980-1037

For the fifth year, the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library are welcoming submissions for a student essay award in memory of Danny Jones, M.L.S., who served as Head of Special Collections at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Library and who was also a Past President of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. The essay can be on any topic related to the history of the health sciences, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, public health, or any other health science subject or profession.

The contest is open to current students in any of UT Health San Antonio’s five schools, as well as affiliated interns, residents, and fellows. This year, eligibility has also been extended to UTSA students. Unpublished essays in broad areas related to the history of the health sciences are eligible for submission. Previous essays not selected are also eligible for re-submission.

A prize of $500 will be awarded to the best essay as chosen by a panel of three judges. Deadline for submission is January 31, 2018. The prize will be awarded at the spring P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library open house.

Click here for more details on contest rules.

Treasures from the P.I. Nixon Library: Gold Stemmed Pessaries



Check out the latest blog entry from the Treasures of the P.I. Nixon Library:  Gold Stemmed Pessaries: A Shadow of the Past

SON Liaison visits TAMU College Station Medical Sciences Library for Professional Development Exchange

Emme Lopez, MLS, Liaison to the School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio, visited Texas A&M University (TAMU) College Station in early September as part of a professional development exchange opportunity funded by SCAMeL. Ms. Lopez spent a week shadowing Margaret Foster, MS, MPH, AHIP as she taught, consulted on, and performed systematic reviews. Ms. Foster, who recently visited UT Health San Antonio Libraries as part of the exchange (read more here), is an Associate Professor and the Systematic Reviews and Research Services Coordinator at TAMU.  Growing faculty interest in systematic reviews has created a need to develop librarians’ skills in managing and conducting systematic review protocols. This visit was intended to serve as a fast-track learning opportunity about the systematic review process in addition to fostering peer review in search methodologies and developing collegiality amongst medical librarians in the south central region. Lessons learned include the many ways a systematic review service may be structured, techniques for moving patrons along in the review process, and leveraging existing skillsets to develop confidence in the process.

Book Giveaway October 2-8

 Briscoe Library will have a book giveaway October 2 – 8


The book giveaway will start at 9 a.m. on Monday, October 2 at the entrance of the library and will continue through Sunday, October 8.

Books to be included in the giveaway are old editions withdrawn from the library’s collection or donations given to the library, yet not needed for the collection. All give-away books are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Feel free to bring bags to carry books since there will be plenty to choose from!

For more information about the book give-away, contact Andrea N. Schorr,
Head of Resource Management, at 567-2400 or at

New Leisure Books – October 2017


Need a break? Check out the latest titles in the Leisure collection.


The Leisure collection is located on the main floor of the Briscoe Library across from the Circulation desk. This collection is funded through library donations.

For a complete list of all titles in the Leisure collection click here.

Leisure titles are currently selected by library staff, but suggestions are welcome. Send suggestions to


Gold Stemmed Pessaries: A Shadow of the Past


Although the above medical device appears to just be a thingamajig from the local hardware store, it is not. It is a gold, spring-stem wishbone pessary first developed in Germany in the 1880s and used through the late 1930s. Generally, today’s medical pessaries are used for three types of issues: a supportive device for organ prolapse, a vaginal suppository for delivering pharmacologic preparations, and birth control. The type of spring-stem wishbone pessary found in the Nixon Library is described as a remedy for uterine malposition or bleeding complaints, yet it is also widely recognized as an early modern intrauterine device.

Stones and Goop

The word pessary derives from the Greek word pessόs, which means oval stone similar to ones used in ancient checkers.  Historically, stone pessaries were used to remedy organ prolapse and women in New Zealand were noted to place pebbles in the uterus to foster sterility. Stories abound of small rocks inserted into the uteri of camels during long desert journeys to disrupt the uterine cavity and prevent pregnancy. This could not have been at all comfortable for woman or beast.

For thousands of years, cultures around the globe used cervical pessaries and documented an understanding of barrier contraceptive methods.  Inventive birth control mixtures, often combined with magic and ritual, might include viscous pastes of honey, rancid oil, animal dung, tree resin, dates, or fermented acadia leaves soaked with lint.

By the time the late 19th century rolled around, pessaries evolved to include metal cervico-uterine models.  Physician Carl Hollweg patented a wishbone pessary in 1902 designed to “support the uterus”, and specifically, “prevent excessive and abnormal bending of this organ and to obviate and break apart any abnormal growth of tissue. . . ”. Considering Hollweg’s description, it seems its role in birth control was an unintended discovery. During the cervico-uterine heyday, the most well known wishbone spring-stem pessary in the United States was the Ideal, also known as the brooch, the butterfly, or the wishbone stem.

Arrangements and Regrets

Proper placement of the wishbone spring-stem pessary required a visit to a physician. The two flexible arms were squeezed together to create a linear form and encased in a gelatinous material to facilitate entry into the uterus. After insertion, the pessary’s concave button rested against the the external os and the spring stem sat within the cervical canal. When the gel casing melted due to body temperature, the arms would spring out laterally and the oval tips maintained the device’s position within the uterine cavity. Due to infection concerns, a physician typically left the wishbone pessary in place for only two to three months before removal. Once the uterus was free from a foreign object for several months, the pessary was reinserted.

It eventually became clear that using a stem pessary, which left the uterus vulnerable to pathogens, could be dangerous. Wishbone stem pessaries fell out of favor as evidence of infection, uterine perforation, and death began to mount. Additionally, some women who used this type of pessary for bPerforated uterus due to spring-stem pessaryirth control experienced a level of unreliability resulting in unintended pregnancy. These multiple side effects prompted improved intrauterine designs similar to what we see today.

Out of the Shadows

The Nixon Library owns two examples of gold-filled wishbone spring-stem pessaries. One is stamped “14K”, is approximately 0.5 inches in in diameter, and 2.5 inches in length.  The other is marked “GOLD”, approximately 1.0 inch in diameter, and 2.5 inches in length.  A concave disc supports a coiled stem at which two thin metal arms with flat, oval tipped ends project into a “V” position.

It would be our pleasure to bring these pessaries out of the historical shadows for viewing.  If you would like to examine these golden pessaries in person, please contact Mellisa DeThorne at


Cooper, J. F. (1928). Technique of contraception. New York, NY: Day-Nichols

Himes, N. E. (1934). Medical history of contraception. The New England Journal of Medicine, 210(11), 576-581.

Hollweg, C. (1902). U.S. Patent No. 709675. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved August 2017 from:

Oliver, R., Thakar, R., & Sultan, A. H. (2011). The history and usage of the vaginal pessary: A review. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 156(2), 125-130.

Image sources:

Fotinos, D. (2017). Gold Spring-Stem Pessaries [Digital photograph].

Penetration of the uterus by gold stem pessary. [Online photograph]. Retrieved August 2017 from: doi:10.1001/jama.1933.27420190001008

[Untitled photograph of spring stem pessary with box]. Retrieved August 2017 from:

-Diane Fotinos, B.S., PA



News from the Libraries September 2017

The September issue of News from the Libraries is now available. For links to individual articles, see the table of contents below.

Online Course in Scientific Writing and Publishing Now Available

The Youth Health Literacy Challenge: A Partnership Between UT Health San Antonio Libraries, North East ISD, and SAPL

Systematic Reviews Expert Provides Free Seminars for Faculty and Librarians

Coming Later this Fall: New Library Furniture and Space Arrangements

Featured New Books/E-books for September 2017

The Library is Here to Help!

See all past issues of News From the Libraries

The Youth Health Literacy Challenge: A Partnership between the UT Health San Antonio Libraries, North East ISD, and SAPL



UT Health San Antonio Libraries partnered with the North East Independent School District Summer Food Service Program and the San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) to provide the Youth Health Literacy Challenge, a project funded by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). This project filled a gap in providing health information during the NEISD Summer Food Service Program’s feeding times at SAPL branches and encouraged youth to log health literacy activities based on challenges written in both English and Spanish. Youth were also provided with a calendar (front cover and sample page shown above) that included kid-friendly recipes, word games, and information on the NLM’s websites for youth. Additionally, a teen cooking program (reported in the August newsletter) was provided at one of the participating library branches.

Due to the complexity of project activities and recent data that 45% of children aged 8-18 in Bexar County are overweight or obese, the Youth Health Literacy Challenge aimed to reach underrepresented and underserved youth in grades 3-12. During the 2015-2016 school year, NEISD reported that 45% of students received free and reduced meals, 57% of students were Hispanic-Latino, and that a large portion of students living near library feeding sites had low family income. These factors indicated a high risk for poor health outcomes and low health literacy in the areas served.

As a Resource Library of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio Libraries used the Youth Health Literacy Challenge to promote awareness of NLM health information resources that could influence youth to practice healthy behaviors. SAPL and UT Health San Antonio Libraries staff handed out 1,838 out of 2,253 calendars during the project period. NEISD staff distributed 1,269 out of 1,900 activity logs. Karen Barton, Liaison and Community Engagement Librarian, served as the Principal Investigator and seeks to collaborate with more feeding and cooking programs in the area in order to promote health information resources.