A smiling Drew Bourn in front the grave of Marcel Proust, in a circular frame with orange, yellow, and green decorative circles behind the photo on a teal background

Meet Your Lane Library Staff: Drew Bourn

Every month, we are spotlighting an amazing member of our library staff. This month meet Drew Bourn, History Curator.

What do you do at the library?

I oversee the Medical History Center, which is the archives and rare books collection in Lane Library. The Medical History Center is a treasure trove of resources about the history of Stanford Medicine and also about the history of medicine in general – including a rare book collection of over 7,000 rare books going back to the 13th century.

What do you like best about the people who use Lane Library?

I have the good fortune to work with a wide range of people who use the resources and services of the Medical History Center – scholars doing historical research, genealogists researching family history, artists looking for interesting images, and more. In every case, people come because there is something about the evidence of the past that they expect will be useful in what they are trying to accomplish. I love that curiosity and interest, and I love the variety of ways in which people make use of the past.

What is the most rewarding (or favorite) part of your job?

Teaching history is basically storytelling. I love that my work involves telling stories (either as a guest lecturer in Stanford courses, or through Medical History Center projects such as exhibits and tours). But I also love giving people training and tools to tell stories themselves, and to think critically about the historical accounts they’ve received at school, in the media, or elsewhere.

How long have you worked at Lane?

Fifteen years. I came from Harvard University’s Center for the History of Medicine in 2007.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to read (in English and Italian) and to travel. Whereas for my PhD I trained as an historian, my husband Jim got his doctorate in medieval European literature, so together we have a grand time reading and traveling and playing with languages.

Do you prefer . . .

Coffee or tea? The occasional espresso after a good Italian meal.

Cats or dogs? Dogs! We have a rescue Black Lab named Sceolán (named after a magical dog in Irish folklore)

Candy or cake? A good tiramisu.

Salty or sweet? Salty.

Print or digital books? Print. While I occasionally read ebooks, I love the weight and texture and smell of physical books.

Nonfiction or fiction? Both! I read voraciously.

Summer or winter? Autumn, actually. One thing I miss about New England is the glory of the trees in autumn.

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