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The Library as Place

I've been thinking a lot lately about this. Why? Because this summer your intrepid blog editor is going to be moving the hospital library from this building where it has been for over 25 years to the other hospital campus several miles away across town. This is a great opportunity to ponder deeply how this room is being used and consider how to structure things to better facilitate these uses in our new area.

This library inhabits 2300 square feet on the hospital's ground floor. OK, that's a fancy way to say that we are way down here in the basement. It's comfortable down here and we're right next to the classrooms. So the medical students, interns, and residents spend a lot of time here. I think several orthopedic residents actually live here. There is seating for 22 and there are times when all the table and carrel space is occupied. Occasionally, it gets downright wild down here. Yesterday, for instance. The surgical residents were regaling each other with amusing OR anecdotes. Thank goodness, there weren't any people trying to study! I was laughing too hard to shush them. I'm glad that they feel "at home" here.

Later this week, I will be able to "walk through" the space that is currently being considered for the library on the other campus. As I walk through the rooms, what I'll be planning is not just where to put the books, journals, and computers, but how to make the library a useful, welcoming PLACE for our students, physicians, and staff.

I wanted to get a handle on some of the latest research and thinking on the concept of "The Library as Place." First stop? The Hospital Library Section wiki page "The Library's Physical Space." There is a lot of food for thought in this University of Illinois at Urbanna-Champaign Current LIS Clip The Library as Place. I also still have on my desk, the DVD Rom that we all were sent by the National Library of Medicine from the 2003 symposium on this subject. I've got my work cut out for me!


NOTE TO SELF: Don't forget to take Mr. Skeleton when we move!


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Comments (4)


Interesting opportunity....
You have probably already thought of these things but here are some things I immediately thought about:

1. Can never have too many computer terminals
2. Can never have too many electrical outlets and network drops for people who have laptops.
3. Make sure your desks with chairs fit in the space when people are sitting in them. Our desks fit with our chairs in the space but not when people are sitting in them. They look great and like they fit when the chairs are all neatly pushed in. People can not sit back to back without bumping into each other constantly.
4. Consider at least one or two enclosed quiet-ish or group study areas.
5. To save space but also attract users we installed a TV on the wall (in a group room) that had a DVD VCR with it.
7. Logical spots for trash cans, recycle bins, and book return. Those always seem to be left out of the mix and then are added at the end of desk for people trip over.
8. Wall space for bulletin boards for the library and users.
9. If you can get yourself a nice office with windows into the library itself. At first I found this distracting but then I liked it because I could keep in touch visually with my users.


Thank you for writing this article. It will help those of us who will face this challenge in the future.

Clare Leibfarth:

Great idea about the TV on the wall! Thanks for all the suggestions!

Clare Leibfarth:

In MEDLIB-L last Thursday 4/3, Karen Bontekoe published a summary of the responses she got for her plea for help in designing a new library. There are some excellent suggestions and great references. You can read the summary here in the listserv archives:


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