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HHSS Member Highlight: Rob Cagna

Welcome to our first member highlight!


As a section we see each other so little--many of us not at all--and we miss out on getting to know some of the really interesting individuals that make up the History of Health Sciences Section. So let's get to know one another! I'm excited to have Rob Cagna as our first member highlight, and I look forward to learning more about all of our members in the future. So without further ado, please enjoy meeting Rob!

-Marie Cirelli, Editor


 My name is Rob Cagna, and I am the director at West Virginia University’s Charleston Division Health Sciences Library. I previously was the Department Head of Access and Document Delivery Services at the University of Pennsylvania Biomedical Library, and before that I was a Senior Research Information Specialist at AARP in Washington, DC. I’m married to the love of my life, Mary Beth, and we have two dogs, Bertie and Zelda.

 I had been interested in joining HHSS but never got around to it, so when MLA offered a free section membership I realized I didn’t have any excuses not to get involved. I had previously given a historical talk at an annual MLA Conference a few years ago, on Vesalius and his book masterpiece, De Humani Corporis Fabrica. I very much enjoyed working on the presentation and researching the history of medicine related to that time period.

 For anyone who is not an HHSS member and would like to join, but perhaps feels like she or he doesn’t know much about the history of medicine, I’d like to mention that a great overview (or refresher) is available via the Teaching Company’s set of DVDs, called “Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed through Biography.” It’s also available as an audio CD set or audio download. I’ve listened to the audio CDs in my car, driving to work.

 History to me is so very important. Knowing the history of an issue helps with more than just avoiding the repeat of mistakes; it deeply immerses one in the issue at hand, and demonstrates how humans have reacted over time to various problems and challenges.

 My favorite thing about the HHSS is knowing there are many smart, dedicated people in our group that are happy to help with problems or questions. These people are librarians who are able to see trends and progressions in the health sciences that sometimes may be elusive to others outside the field.

It’s important for a librarian to be passionate about her or his work. I look forward to going to the library in the morning. I think it’s sad so many people do not seem to be very invested in their jobs, but I don’t think that’s true for most librarians.   

 One thing not many people know about me is that I collect postage stamps related to the history of medicine. I try to incorporate them into my presentations. In our library, we had set up a basket at the front desk filled with packets of postage stamps from around the world related to people and themes concerning the history of medicine. We gave them away to patrons for free. This way our patrons could hold a little bit of history in their hands.

-Rob Cagna

West Virginia University Charleston Division

Library Director

CHSC Library



1 Comment

Nice to meet you!

September 23, 2016 07:18 AM by Jenny Miglus

Hi Rob,

HHSS Member Highlights is such a nice way for us all to get to know one another!  I love putting names to faces and personal and library details.  Our travel budget is basically non-existent so this is a great way to stay in touch.

Thanks for writing.

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