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New Bookplate Exhibit in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library


Mayo Clinic BookplateEver since books were first printed in the 15th century, it has been common practice for collectors and libraries to make some mark of ownership.  This might be simply the name of the owner written on the inside cover of the book or even on the title-page, but eventually the favored convention became the book-plate – a label with a distinctive design.

The earliest known examples are from Germany.  One, circa 1480, bears a woodcut representing a shield of arms supported by an angel; it was pasted in a book presented to the Carthusian monastery of Buxheim by Brother Hildebrand Brandenburg of Biberach.  Between 1503 and 1516 the great Albrecht Durer engraved several book-plates.  Soon, fashion for book-plates spread from Germany to France and Britain.  British examples date from about 1574.

The armorial style of design dominated book-plates for a couple of centuries, when books were expensive.  Then lighter and more diverse motifs became popular during periods of cheaper printing.  After its heyday, the armorial style was added to by landscapes, views of libraries (real and imaginary), allegorical pictures, piles of books and mottoes or quotations.

In 1934 Mayo Clinic Librarian Miss Frida Pliefke began a collection of medically themed bookplates. She wrote to hundreds of libraries and received in return a fine assortment of beautiful bookplates.  The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library collection comprises over 800 bookplates and this exhibit displays just a sampling of this unique collection. Stop by the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library on the 15th floor of the Plummer Building to see this exhibit.  Hours are M-F, 9am-1pm.


A few selections from the current exhibit:

Mayo Clinic Bookplate

The Mayo Clinic Library bookplate bears a very close resemblance to the official Mayo Coat of Arms and is adapted from the bookplates of Dr. Charles H. Mayo and Dr. William J. Mayo used in their private libraries.  The bookplate was revised circa 1921-22 by Ella Jack, who worked in the Mayo Art Studio at that time.  She created a border around the “Coat of Arms” of inverted hearts with a rose center like the crest roses.  This became the common version of the Mayo Library bookplate.  According to heraldic design, the heart signifies “sincerity and charity” while the rose is indicative of “hope and joy”.  This Mayo Library bookplate design is still used today.


Dr. Henry S. Plummer, 1874-1936.

Doctor Plummer was a man of great mechanical genius.  He developed the Clinic’s medical records system in 1907 and had much to do with the design and construction of the first two Mayo Clinic buildings.  He was also the major planner for Mayo’s group practice of medicine.

Dr. Plummer’s bookplate features scholarly and medical motifs, including a skull, books, a globe, and chemical apparatus.


Dr. W. Bruce Fye, 1946-

Dr. Fye selected an iconic image of the Dutch
humanist and scholar Erasmus (1469-1536) for the centerpiece of his bookplate. Félix Bracquemond’s copper engraving, published by the Louvre in 1863, was based on Hans Holbein’s 1523 painting. Dr. Fye acquired the engraving in Paris. The order of the words surrounding the portrait of Erasmus is significant.
Dr. Fye began collecting books in 1960, a dozen years before he graduated from the Johns Hopkins Medical School. It was at Johns Hopkins that he developed an interest in medical history, which grew steadily into a passion for historical research and writing.


Dr. Caroline M. Purnell, ? -1923.  Famous for her work in France during World War I as a surgeon,  Dr. Purnell was the first woman admitted as a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.  She was one of the strongest supporters of the suffrage movement.






Cedars of Lebanon Hospital









California Hospital – Los Angeles






Exhibit curated by and article submitted by:

Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator – W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

May 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm

New Platform for Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports will soon be migrating to the InCites platform where you can find new metrics, reports, and visualizations for analyzing journal impact and performance.  Take a quick tour of the new interface.  Questions? Contact the Mayo Library.

January 31, 2017 at 2:52 pm

What are PlumX Metrics?

PlumX1You might have seen this colorful image  recently when searching for citations in the CINAHL database or any of the other EBSCOhost databases. So what is it, what do those different colors mean, and why should researchers care?

What is it?
That colorful image is a “widget” and it provides some interesting and insightful information regarding the scholarly attention surrounding that particular citation. The PlumX Metrics widget, from Plum Analytics, provides metrics that allow searchers to visualize the research impact of articles, books, chapters, e-books and institutional repository materials.

What do those different colors mean?

The colors on the widget change depending on the altmetrics found in each of the five categories: Usage (green), Captures (purple), Mentions (yellow), Social Media (blue) and citations (orange). If more altmetrics data is found in a certain category for an article, the more pronounced the color is shown in the widget. As an example, see both Figures 1 and 2 below – notice how the article in Figure 1 has attracted significantly more attention than the article in Figure 2. Hovering over the PlumX Metrics widget provides a brief visual breakdown of the altmetrics, and clicking on it brings users to the Plum Suite platform for more in-depth information.

Plum analytics screenshot Figure 1

Figure 1

Plum analytics screeshot Figure 2

Figure 2

Why should researchers care?

Traditionally, research or scholarly impact has been measured using a range of different citation metrics, such as journal impact factor or the number of publications that have cited another publication. However, traditional citations metrics are not comprehensive and typically take longer to truly reflect the impact of a publication.

As mentioned above, PlumX metrics are based on altmetrics, which are different than traditional metrics. The concept of altmetrics is fairly new and is a reflection of an increasingly interconnected world. Altmetrics are mainly composed of data gathered from a variety of online tools and environments. Due to this arrangement, most altmetrics are produced quickly and available earlier than traditional metrics. Altmetrics can also provide a greater understanding of how a publication is being used; it can disclose which publications are being read, discussed, saved, and recommended as well as cited. While altmetrics have potential, there are also some limitations preventing their full acceptance alongside traditional citation metrics.

In summary, PlumX metrics harness altmetrics data and provide a simplified, visual indicator of the scholarly and research attention surrounding a particular citation.


For more information about PlumX metrics:

For more information about altmetrics:

Contributed to LibLog by :

Tara Brigham
Winn Dixie Foundation Medical Library
Mayo Clinic Libraries

July 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Figures in Mayo history: Katherine Fitzgerald, first clinical assistant and surgical reporter

Katherine Fitzgerald with Dr. William J. Mayo around 1916

Katherine Fitzgerald with Dr. William J. Mayo around 1916


The exact date that Katherine (Kate) Fitzgerald started working at Mayo Clinic is unclear. According to Sketch of the History of Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, she came to Mayo Clinic as an assistant in Dr. Sanford’s laboratory and in 1910, she was asked to “take charge of the direction of patients.” Her desk was located next to registration and as Harry Harwick wrote, “She set the pattern for courteous handling of patients at section desks.”   With the opening of the first Mayo Clinic Building in 1914, additional routing desks were necessary and six more desk girls [clinical assistants today] were hired with Kate providing supervision.


A letter, recently discovered in the archives, provides evidence of another role Kate Fitzgerald played in Mayo Clinic’s history. In the letter written by Dr. William J. Mayo on March 27, 1916, to his son-in-law Dr. Donald Balfour, Dr. Will refers to discussions that occurred at a recent general staff meeting.

“We have introduced the stenographer at the hospital to take down the operative dictation for the surgical cards. Miss [Kate] Fitzgerald comes up every morning. It works well and we will continue it. We will probably need another girl before long. She types the dictation before leaving the hospital and it gives us a chance to see and correct it at once.” This letter confirms that Kate Fitzgerald was the first surgical recorder at Mayo Clinic.

Ms. Fitzgerald continued her career at Mayo Clinic and at the time of her retirement was the receptionist in administration. She passed away in Rochester on August 30, 1968, at the age of 88.


Submitted by
Renee Ziemer
W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine

February 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

From the Historical Unit Collection: Dr. W. W. Mayo’s Microscope

One of the many artifacts in the Historical Unit’s collection is a microscope that was purchased by Dr. William Worrall Mayo.

antique microscope

Dr. W. W. Mayo’s Microscope, purchased in 1869

He became fascinated with microscopy during his medical school training, and travels to other institutions increased his interest in this new technology. According to the Mayo family, he purchased at least two microscopes during his lifetime and mortgaged his home to purchase this one in 1869.

Dr. Mayo’s wife Louise was a bit hesitant to mortgage their home with the responsibility of four children and times being hard. However, she told Dr. Mayo, “Well, William, if you could do better by the people with this new microscope, and you really think you need it, we’ll do it.”

The story told is that the microscope cost $600 and took ten years to pay off the mortgage. Patients coming to Mayo Clinic did indeed benefit from the purchase of this microscope.

For more information about the history of the Mayo Clinic, and to see other artifacts in the collection, contact the Mayo Historical Unit and Archives.


Contributed to LibLog by:

Renee Ziemer
Coordinator of the Mayo Clinic Historical Unit


August 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Eau Claire Library Receives Historical Artifacts

The Mayo Clinic Library in Eau Claire recently received several important historical artifacts to be put on display.  These artifacts include framed pictures of two buildings there were early locations of the Midelfart Clinic. The clinic, founded in 1927 by Dr. Hans Christian Midelfart, later joined with Luther Hospital and became part of the Mayo Clinic Health System.

photo of 2 framed pictures of clinic buildings

The Schlegelmilch Building on the left and the Ingram Building on the right.

photo of a framed document, articles of incorporation

Articles of Incorporation for Luther Hospital


Another artifact on display in the library is the original articles of incorporation for Luther Hospital.  This document, signed by the Secretary of State of Wisconsin, shows that the hospital was incorporated on May 11th, 1905. Fundraising and construction of the original hospital were completed in just three years, and the hospital officially opened its doors on August 30th, 1908.

The library also received two letters from Dr. William J Mayo, addressed to Dr. Midelfart. These letters show an early connection between Eau Claire and the Mayo Clinic, though it would be many years before the connection was made official.

photo of 2 framed letters

Letters from Dr. Will to Dr. Midelfart


The library staff are excited to have these artifacts on display and to share some of the rich history of the hospital and clinic in Eau Claire with our patrons.  The library also has a large collection of historical photos and memorabilia.

July 22, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Mayo Clinic Director of Libraries J. Michael Homan Retires

J. Michael Homan retired as Mayo Clinic Director of Libraries in December 2014 after 20 years at Mayo Clinic. His health sciences library career spanned more than 40 years which included significant changes in how knowledge is accessed and managed including the development of the Internet and preference in science and medicine for electronic journals as the primary source of knowledge content. We asked him a few questions at the close of his career.


March 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

Most Popular eJournals & eBooks at Mayo in 2014

Welcome back to our annual look at which eJournals and eBooks were the most highly accessed in 2014.

The New England Journal of Medicine and Circulation continued to hold the top two spots respectively. These were the top 10 eJournals in 2012:

Title Number of Hits
New England Journal of Medicine 168,385
Circulation 71,676
JAMA 69,670
Nature 59,799
Blood 42,084
BMJ 37,077
The Lancet 35,412
Journal of Clinical Oncology 33,921
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 31,655
Neurology 28,353


The top eBooks in 2013 were:

Title Number of Hits
Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 8327
Morgan & Mikhail’s Clinical Anesthesiology 5470
Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine 4548
Dermatology (Bolognia) 3225
Current Surgical Therapy 2810
Wills Eye Manual 2761
Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine 2672
Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide 2577
Goodman & Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics 2366
Williams Hematology 2357

March 10, 2015 at 11:56 am