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Vet Print

By Esther Carrigan

Director, Medical Sciences Library
Associate Dean of Texas A&M Libraries
Esther Carrigan enhances and preserves Texas A&M's veterinary collections with support from a professorship in international librarianship. She is pictured here with Miko, the Medical Sciences Library cat.

College Station, Texas A&M University and its Medical Sciences Library were supposed to be only a brief stop on my journey to the Texas Medical Center Library, which by the 1980s was a magnet for the world’s best and brightest medical librarians. I came to Texas A&M as a relatively new medical librarian, expecting to enhance my experience and move on, not anticipating how much its libraries could enrich and develop my professional career. Looking back over the last 30 years, I cannot imagine another environment offering more opportunities than Texas A&M.    

As a medical librarian, I had supported the full gamut of human medicine, but never veterinary medicine. It was fascination at first sight. There was so much to learn about veterinary education, veterinary practice and the literature of veterinary medicine, not to mention meeting and building relationships with my veterinary librarian colleagues and other academic veterinary libraries.

I arrived at Texas A&M just in time to witness the development of its Medical Sciences Library, one of only two such combined human and veterinary libraries in the United States. The world of academic veterinary libraries is a small community with fewer than 35 accredited institutions in North America and fewer than 200 internationally. This provides Texas A&M’s Medical Sciences Library with seemingly endless opportunities and challenges—and luckily, with enough resources to stand out among our peers.

"Our collection includes print materials and artifacts spannings the 16th to 20th centuries as well as books owned by early veterinary faculty." 

One such resource is the support of our former students, who by funding professorships and other gifts, enhance our ability to offer expanded services and support specialized initiatives and research by Texas A&M librarians. In 2012, I was fortunate to receive the Mary and James Crawley ’47 Endowed Professorship in International Librarianship, which has acted as an incredible boon to the work that I do. The Crawleys are avid supporters of the arts and humanities at Texas A&M, and annual stipends from their $100,000 endowment allow me to build personal and working relationships with international veterinary librarian colleagues and with historical veterinary book collectors and dealers. Their professorship also enables my participation in international veterinary organizations and conferences that lay the foundation for enhancing Texas A&M’s veterinary collections and playing a leadership role in preserving veterinary literature.

It’s not commonly known, but Texas A&M’s Medical Sciences Library houses one of the world’s most extensive historical veterinary collections, which raises the visibility and reputation of the university. Our collection includes print materials and artifacts spanning the 16th to 20th centuries as well as a number of books owned by early Texas A&M veterinary faculty. These veterinary resources elevate our library to an esteemed level—several national and international collectors of historical veterinary books and artifacts are even contacting us in the hopes that their collections can live at Texas A&M.

This book about equine anatomy and medicine, published in 1772 and written by Philippe-Etienne LaFosse, features hand-colored plates and is one of the Medical Sciences Library's most treasured possessions. 

Adding to our collections is as equally important as preserving what we have. By utilizing funds from the Crawley professorship, I have also spoken internationally to several groups to advocate for expanded preservation efforts for the literature of veterinary medicine. These speaking engagements put Texas A&M’s Medical Sciences Library on the map, which is only appropriate given its role as a major support system for the internationally ranked College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Texas A&M’s library collections span the breadth of knowledge and provide services that support students, faculty, researchers and librarians who are gaining national and international recognition. Without private and enduring support such as endowed professorships and other gifts, we would not have the reputation or resources necessary to fulfill our mission. There is certainly a match in the libraries for your passions and interests, and I hope you will consider joining our venture to enhance collections, services and research objectives.