USC Medical Librarian Honored with “Mover and Shaker” Award

Posted by Tyson Gaskill

Megan Rosenbloom of the USC Libraries has been named a “Mover and Shaker” in the library industry by the national publication, Library Journal.

In its March 15, 2016 issue, Library Journal named 54 outstanding professionals committed to providing excellent service and shaping the future of libraries. Rosenbloom, who currently serves as Associate Director for Collection Services at the Norris Medical Library on the USC Health Sciences Campus, helps train the doctors of tomorrow using medical humanities to highlight issues related to patient care.

“I am pleased that Megan Rosenbloom has been selected as a Library Journal Mover and Shaker for 2016. This is a great honor for her and acknowledges her work at USC and in medical history,” said Cynthia Henderson, associate dean of the USC Health Sciences Libraries.

Rosenbloom is a member of the Order of the Good Death, a group of funeral industry professionals, academics, and artists working to combat modern society’s seeming inability to embrace our own mortality. Their regular international gatherings, called “Death Salons,” encourage productive discussions about normally taboo topics.

“Megan’s work exemplifies the excellence of our Health Sciences Libraries, and the Death Salon events Megan directs and curates expand the capacity of librarianship to inform difficult conversations about death and mourning,” said Catherine Quinlan, dean of the USC Libraries. “We’re very proud of Megan’s accomplishments at USC and beyond.”

Another of her professional interests involves documenting the existence in library and museum collections of books bound in human skin. As macabre as it may sound, the practice was not uncommon in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and offers a window into contemporary views doctors held toward patients.

“Around the late 1800s, when the medical profession was just beginning to establish ethical standards, bodies were highly valuable for autopsies. The cadavers of transients or the destitute were sometimes used for bookbinding,” said Rosenbloom. “In some cases books were bound in human skin to show respect for a particular patient, such as a soldier. At other times the bodies of notorious criminals were used as a kind of cautionary tale.”

Rosenbloom is a founding member of the Anthropodermic Book Project, a team that has designed a method for analyzing suspected “skin books” and is traveling across the United States and Europe to conduct research and testing in order to publish a complete library census.

The 2016 Movers & Shakers were selected by the editors of Library Journal, the profession’s leading trade magazine. Founded in 1876, it is one of the oldest and most respected publications covering the library field. Library Journal reviews over 8000 books, audiobooks, videos, databases, and web sites annually, and provides coverage of technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns.