By Judy Woodward

Every month, the reference librarians at the Roseville Library receive dozens of questions from the public. Here are two of the more interesting queries we received recently:

Q.  It’s taken just about a year to develop the Covid-19 vaccines, and that’s supposed to be a world record. I’ve heard that the fastest previous vaccine ever brought to market took at least four years. What was that vaccine and when was it developed?

A.  One night in 1963, the young daughter of American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman woke him up, complaining of a sore throat and swollen glands. 

In addition to being a concerned father, Hilleman was perhaps the most prolific inventor of vaccines in American history. He quickly realized that his daughter had mumps, a common childhood illness of the era, which was normally mild in children but could have devastating effects on people who contracted the illness in adulthood. From a swab of his daughter’s throat, Hilleman was able to isolate the mumps virus and develop a vaccine against the illness.

Four short years later, in 1967, the mumps vaccine was licensed for distribution—a world record that stood until the current pandemic. The virus strain used in the development of the vaccine was named Jeryl Lynn, after Hilleman’s daughter; and it is still used in vaccine production today.

Mumps may have been Hilleman’s fastest accomplishment, but it was far from his only triumph. Hilleman and his team invented more than 40 vaccines, which protect against illnesses ranging from measles and chicken pox to hepatitis.  He invented a vaccine that saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the 1957 flu pandemic, and no doubt he’d have been hard at work battling the Covid virus today, if he were still alive. Maurice Hilleman died in 2005 at the age of 85.  (Internet Resources.)

Q.      Is there a way I can see a list of the books I’ve checked out in the last year or longer?

A.  Because of the legal requirements of the County’s data privacy policy, we do not retain records of what you’ve borrowed.

But there are ways that you can store the information yourself. You can keep track of your materials on our website, by using the “shelves” option when you log into your account. You can mark items as In Progress, Completed or For Later.  This gives you the freedom to keep track of what you’ve already read, or make note of items you want to save “For Later” reading.

If you have questions about these features or anything else about our website, you can contact our librarians at 651-724-6001 (press line 2) for more information 

Judy Woodward, who lives in St. Anthony Park, is a reference librarian at the Roseville Library, 2180 N. Hamline Ave. The library’s general phone number is 651-724-6001.

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