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Librarians in Los Angeles, San Francisco Catalogue HIV/AIDS Materials

January 3, 2008

Librarians in Los Angeles and San Francisco have finished cataloguing hundreds of thousands of HIV/AIDS documents and have made the documents available to the public, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives received a $195,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to catalogue the materials. NHPRC also awarded a shared $170,000 grant to a library at the University of California-San Francisco and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Historical Society. It took three years for librarians to catalogue the documents.

The documents include government paperwork responding to HIV/AIDS; safe-sex pamphlets; magazines targeted toward people living with HIV/AIDS; and diaries and letters of HIV-positive people, as well as those of people who died of AIDS-related causes or who were affected by the disease. Some of the documents were donated by people living with HIV/AIDS. Some government and agency documents were scheduled to be shredded but were donated by employees. Other documents were donated by physicians who treated early HIV/AIDS patients.

According to scholars, the collections -- along with similar ones in New York and San Francisco -- will be invaluable for researchers. Richard McKay, a doctoral student in history at the University of Oxford, recently examined the documents. "A big difficulty in the history of medicine is that records are left mostly by practitioners," McKay said, adding, that it is "often very difficult" for researchers to "access the voice of the patient." He added, "These archives do a lot for that, to a greater extent than others do" (Gordon, Los Angeles Times, 1/2).

Online Online summaries of the collections will be available online.

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