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Bull Med Libr Assoc. 2001 Jan;89(1):51-8.

Ethics and access to teaching materials in the medical library: the case of the Pernkopf atlas.

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1
Kornhauser Health Sciences Library, University of Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA.

Abstract

Conflicts can occur between the principle of freedom of information treasured by librarians and ethical standards of scientific research involving the propriety of using data derived from immoral or dishonorable experimentation. A prime example of this conflict was brought to the attention of the medical and library communities in 1995 when articles claiming that the subjects of the illustrations in the classic anatomy atlas, Eduard Pernkopf's Topographische Anatomie des Menschen, were victims of the Nazi holocaust. While few have disputed the accuracy, artistic, or educational value of the Pernkopf atlas, some have argued that the use of such subjects violates standards of medical ethics involving inhuman and degrading treatment of subjects or disrespect of a human corpse. Efforts were made to remove the book from medical libraries. In this article, the history of the Pernkopf atlas and the controversy surrounding it are reviewed. The results of a survey of academic medical libraries concerning their treatment of the Pernkopf atlas are reported, and the ethical implications of these issues as they affect the responsibilities of librarians is discussed.

PMID:
11209801
PMCID:
PMC31704
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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