About the Library Collections

Circulating Books

The circulating books are located on the 12th floor of the library. Included in these collections are approximately 20,000 textbooks on a variety of health care topics, dating from the 1960s to the present time.

All of these books can be checked out of the library for 56 days with an option to renew for an additional 28 days. Students, faculty and staff of the Boston University, the Boston Medical Center, and members of the Boston Library Consortium are eligible to check out books from the library. Click here for more information on the library’s circulation services or to search the Library Catalog.

Electronic Books

The library offers access to more than 12,600 electronic books. Available ebooks include the AccessMedicineAccessSurgery and STAT!Ref collections of current clinical texts.

Electronic books can be accessed remotely via the Web, or searched from computers located on the 12th floor of the library and the 11th floor Computer Lab and classrooms.

History of Medicine

The History of Medicine collection is located on the 12th floor of the library. This collection is comprised of older, historically relevant texts as well as current texts on the history of medicine and healthcare. Many of the textbooks in the History of Medicine collection circulate outside the library. These are designated as “Medical History” in the Library Catalog. Those texts that are extremely fragile or valuable are part of the archival collection.

[See Archives]

Reference Books

Reference books are housed on the 12th floor of the library, behind the Reference Desk. They are identified by the “Medical Reference” designation in the Library Catalog. The reference area consists primarily of directories, indexes, encyclopedias, dictionaries and bibliographies. Reference books do not normally circulate outside the library, but patrons are welcome to use them in-house.

Reserve Books

Books on Reserve are located behind the Circulation desk in the Reserve area. Reserve books are designated as “Medical Reserve” in the Library Catalog and do not normally circulate outside the library. The reserve collections include the most popular, current editions of clinical biomedical textbooks. Because reserve texts are so popular, use is limited to 2 hours per person.

Electronic Journals

Users have access to over 6,800 electronic journal titles through the library.

[Patrons should note that electronic journal subscriptions are often restricted to faculty, staff and students of Boston University and Boston Medical Center. Please contact a reference librarian for information on subscription restrictions.]

Print Journals

Limited current journal subscriptions are housed on the 12th floor of the library, where recent issues are stored in the back room. Please ask at the front desk if you would like to consult one of these titles.

Older issues of both current and discontinued print subscriptions are shelved in offsite storage. Interlibrary loan requests can retrieve desired articles at no charge. Journals can be identified in the Library Catalog by doing a “title” search for the journal title. Please ask at the front desk if you have questions.

Print journals are identified by the “Medical Library Journal” designation in the Library Catalog. Journal collections include professional, health-related titles only. Journals do not circulate outside the library.

3D Models

The following 3D anatomical models are located behind the Circulation desk in the Reserve area:

  • Adult heart, 7-part
  • Brain with arteries
  • Child bone box (half skeleton)
  • Classic anatomical heart, 2-part
  • Clear human jaw with teeth
  • Female bone box (half skeleton)
  • Female pelvis with ligaments, vessels, nerves, pelvic floor, organs
  • Foot skeleton model with ligaments and muscles
  • Functional shoulder joint
  • Giant larynx, 3 times full-size
  • Hand skeleton model with ligaments and muscles
  • Jumbo heart, 2 times full-size, 4-part
  • Magnetic osteological teaching skull
  • Male bone box (half skeleton)
  • Neuro-anatomical brain
  • Nose with paranasal sinuses
  • Shoulder joint with rotator cuff
  • Superior maxilla and mandible of adult

3D models are available for in-library use only, and may be checked out for up to two hours (renewals are allowed if no other students have requested the model).


Included in the archival collection are rare, valuable or fragile historical texts, as well as memorabilia such as photographs, graduation records, school catalogs, department newsletters, annual reports, medical instrumentation, and other materials representative of the Boston University Medical Campus’s activities and achievements. Archives are located in a secured area, and are available to the public by appointment only. Contact A’Llyn Ettien at (617) 358-4488 or for more information about archival materials.

Archives Online: The majority of the Medical Library’s collection of historical and modern publications from Boston University, BUSM and the BU Medical Campus has been digitized and is now available online in the digital repository OpenBU.

Click to view timelines for the BU School of Medicine and Boston University Medical Center, the Goldman School of Dental Medicine, or Boston University as a whole.

Click here to view an online copy of Rebecca Lee Crumpler’s A Book of Medical Discourses : in Two Parts hosted by the National Library of Medicine. Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler  (click for a BU Medicine tribute) holds a place in American history as the first African-American woman to receive an MD in the United States. Rebecca Lee received a Doctress of Medicine degree in 1864 when she graduated from the New England Female Medical College (later to merge with Boston University in 1873).

Bibliographic and Knowledge Databases

The library provides access to over 300 electronic databases. Access to a variety of databases, including PubMed, CINAHL, ERIC, PsycInfo, Web of Science, and many others, is available to eligible users. Paid subscription databases require authentication using BU login information.


The Library provides access to a number of electronic newspapers, which can be accessed on the News Sources page.

Print Indexes

The library owns a number of historical print indexes including Index Medicus and others. Some indexes are shelved on the 12th floor and some are held in offsite storage (see location information in catalog listings). Please ask a librarian if you have questions about access to these materials.

[See Bibliographic and Knowledge Databases, above, for information about electronic indexes.]

Software Packages

The Computer Lab provides access to many software programs including the Microsoft Office Suite (MS Access, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Publisher, MS Word), and a variety of computer-assisted instruction software.