Friday, August 30, 2013

A Case For Research

I have mentioned in my blog posts that I do research at the National Archives and the Library of Congress on behalf of my longtime employer.  I won’t bother you with details about the type of research I do, but I can tell you that it is fascinating work and I enjoy my occupation thoroughly.  As I begin my nineteenth year with the same firm, which is located in Dallas, Texas, I am grateful for such an interesting and constantly challenging vocation.  I am most fortunate that I can toil full time from my home in Baltimore County, Maryland, and that my domicile happens to be in such close proximity to Washington D.C. and its vast repositories of medical, technical and scientific information.

Yesterday’s quest took me to the National Institutes of Health, located in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb of the nation’s capitol. Made up of 27 institutes and centers, each with a specific research agenda, the National Institutes of Health is the largest biomedical research institution on earth, creating more than 300,000 jobs by subsidizing thousands of scientists at over 2500 universities and research institutions in every state across America and around the globe.  It is also home to the NIH Clinical Center, the largest hospital in the world totally dedicated to clinical research. 1200 principal investigators and more than 4000 postdoctoral fellows work in NIH’s intramural research laboratories (two are family members), most of whom are on the NIH campus I visited. Over 130 Nobel prize winners have received financial support from NIH to conduct their ground-breaking research.

The 322 acre National Institutes of
Health is home to the National
Library of Medicine
The National Institutes of Health made its debut in 1887 as a one-room laboratory inside the Marine Hospital Service, predecessor to the U.S. Public Health Service, of which the NIH is still part.  Now this sprawling complex stretches over 322 tree-filled acres in northwest D.C.  My destination on the vast campus was the National Library of Medicine, founded in 1836 as the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office. Later known as the Armed Services Medical Library, in 1952 it was made a part of the Public Health Service.  In 1961, on the 125th anniversary of its founding, ground was broken for its beautiful new building.

The NLM seal
Unlike the Library of Congress in downtown D.C. where there is virtually no place to park, the National Library of Medicine is accessible by subway or car.  I decided to drive this time, so I could get a better sense of my surroundings.  The day was warm and bright and I was eager to wear some of the fun yellow jewelry I bought for a wedding I attended recently in Kentucky (see Wedding).  I started with vintage leggings by Rainbeau Bodywear in a black and white fleur-de-lis pattern that I bought as a teen in northern California. They’ve held their elasticity amazingly well and, incredibly, are right back en vogue today.

I am thrilled with how these pieces
go together even though they came
from different stores
I topped the fancy pants with a plain white ribbed Faded Glory tank top and draped a sheer black sleeveless blouse by Worthington over that.  The contrasts proved a perfect foil for my Lucite baubles: a beveled necklace from Nordstrom and beaded bracelets and earrings from JCPenney’s Mixit collection. I finished my look with a roomy mid-summer purchase, a yellow leather handbag by Rosetti that I picked up on sale, and strappy, cork-heeled sandals by City Streets.

The walk across the NIH grounds to secure a badge, apply for an extended research pass and get to the Library of Medicine was long.  Since my leg is still sporting fresh sutures from Sunday’s clumsiness (see Stitches), I opted for the campus shuttle when it was time to head back to my car, a convenient and comfortable choice.

A friendly passerby offered
to take my picture in front of
the Library of Medicine
I believe I’m going to enjoy conducting research at the biomedical center of the universe.  Knowledge seemed to ooze from the pores of everyone I met.  Perhaps by sheer osmosis I will increase my own intelligence quotient. Can't hurt.  Might help!

"Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." ~ Walter Cronkite

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