Calling All Librarians: A Visual and Interactive 3D Database for your Library

At Visible Body, we feel a kinship with academic librarians. Taking vast amounts of information, making sure it is accurate, organizing it in a logical, user-friendly system, and presenting it in such a way that it sparks understanding and learning—librarians do it, and we do it too!

Our universe of knowledge is focused on the human body: Visible Body creates highly visual and interactive content for students and professionals who need to understand and communicate human anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

The professionals behind Visible Body's content are part of our in-house biomedical visualization team. Everything they create is reviewed by outside panels of experts before being included in the products we provide to libraries and medical institutions around the world. Our content collection includes over 24,000 items.

Here are some samples: 

Interactive 3D model sets of the male and female human body.


Over 6,000 encyclopedic reference entries that include definitions and pronunciations in seven languages.


Hundreds of brief animations that convey key physiology and common pathologies.


MRI and CT scans that are tagged and paired with 3D models.


Dissection quizzes that test students’ understanding of human anatomy. 

Our library is not one of books on shelves, but rather apps that can be accessed on whatever electronic platform our users prefer: PCs or Macs, iPhones or Android phones, tablets, or zSpace.

Our three most popular app titles indicate the focus of the collections therein:

  • Human Anatomy Atlas, our flagship app, is a comprehensive 3D atlas of the human body that allows users to explore the human body on their own. It's also very popular with physicians for patient education.
  • Anatomy & Physiology is a step-by-step interactive introduction to each body system. It is often used by students in a first course on the human body's structures and functions.
  • Muscle Premium is a comprehensive reference of musculoskeletal structures and function, plus common injuries and conditions. It is popular with orthopedic specialists and physical therapists

Professors and students tend to view Visible Body’s apps as companions or replacements to textbooks. Librarians often describe them as databases, and they certainly do function as such. In Human Anatomy Atlas, for example, a quick search for “thyroid” results in:

  • 16 names and definitions of anatomical structures with the term “thyroid” within (organized by anatomical system—in this case, the endocrine, skeletal, circulatory, and nervous systems all have thyroid-related structures). Tapping/clicking on each of these definitions launches a model of that structure within the context of surrounding anatomy. The model can be examined from all sides and the surrounding anatomical structures can be identified with a click or tap.
  • 11 regional/systemic anatomical 3D model views, such as “Thyroid Vasculature” and “Parathyroid Glands,” that can be launched and explored further.
  • Six quizzes, such as “Neck and Laryngeal,” which include thyroidal structures.  

Searching the Visible Body apps' database of content is fast and easy! 

Committed to supporting teaching and learning at their institutions, academic librarians discover Visible Body in various ways. Sometimes a faculty member will suggest Visible Body as an addition to the collection; other times a librarian might stumble upon this resource while doing other research. Librarians rigorously evaluate any potential new materials on accuracy, usefulness, and their fit within academic programs—and our apps stand up to these tests.

“We (the librarians) like to put prospective databases through their paces,” explains Nancy Kennedy, Chair of the Henrietta G. Lewis Library at Niagara County Community College. “We do lots of searches. We intentionally make lots of mistakes and see how forgiving a database is. We see how easy the login is. Everything that a student could do wrong, we try to do in our trial.”

Once it's part of an academic library’s collection, Visible Body is often used by Allied Health students: nursing, physical therapy, radiology, personal training, etc. An Anatomy & Physiology course is a prerequisite for these careers and is notoriously difficult. “We (at NCCC) are working at retention in all fields, and particularly in the health sciences,” Kennedy says. “A&P is a tough class for our students, so we’re looking to Visible Body to help on that front.”

Health sciences, biology and medicine students and faculty are not the only users of Visible Body on campus. Visual arts students, both in 2D art (drawing, animation) and 3D art (sculpture) also use the highly accurate medical visualizations to better understand human anatomy. Jennifer Martinez Wormer is Library Director at Laguna College of Art + Design and has included Visible Body in their collection since 2012. “The impact [Visible Body] is having is helping our students develop a better understanding of human anatomy and muscular systems so that the humans they portray in their art are more realistic and believable,” she says.

Want to learn more about using technology in healthcare education and patient communication? Take a look!

You can also contact our Education Team to start a free trial of Visible Body's 3D anatomy apps at your academic institution.