History

The Sri Lanka Medical Library is the oldest medical institution in the country. It was established as the Colonial Medical Library on the 1st June 1844, less than 30 years after the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom, Throughout its long history, it has had many vicissitudes as would be expected of an institution which has survived well over a century. It is a tribute to its resilience and the tenacity of its members, both past and present, that it was able to weather many local, national and even global upheavals during its long course.   The necessity of a medical library was felt when local doctors who trained in Calcutta were returning to the country. The name changed to Ceylon Medical Library in 1939. The present name Sri Lanka Medical Library was assumed in 1972 when Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka.

It was originally housed in Pettah hospital and was moved to Ceylon Medical College in 1880. It was transferred to its present location Wijerama house in 1965 under the provisions of Dr. Wijerama’s deed of gift.

The library is an approved charity run by a committee of doctors which has an elected Hony. President, Hony. Secretary, Hony. Treasurer and 12 other members of management. It is an example of a medical library attached to an autonomous body. The library functions according to a constitution adopted in 1972. This is the only library dedicated to all medical doctors in the country.

The Library has 9000 books and monographs. It owns an invaluable rare book collection on Sri Lanka. According to Dr. Uragoda ‘The oldest medical book in the library is Avicennae’s Canon Medicinae published in 1608’. (Ceylon Medical Journal). Being the oldest Medical Library in the country it has the best collection of past journals. It has 10,330 bound volumes of periodicals in 225 titles. These include the following series beginning from volume 1: Ceylon Medical Journal from 1887, Ceylon Branch of the British Medical Association from 1904, The Journal of the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children 1951,   Brain from 1878, Lancet from 1823, Journal of Pathology from 1893, and Practitioner from 1889.