Renovation of the Saint Marys Hospital Library and Knowledge Services

April 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

As persons who reverence life and wisdom may the lamp of truth burn brightly within. As brothers and sisters in service to those in need, may the lamp of compassion burn brightly within.  As seekers of knowledge, may the lamp of healing burn brightly within…

These words of blessing by Sister Mary Eliot Crowley, OSF, Franciscan Sponsorship Coordinator, Mayo Clinic Administrative Services, dedicated the renovated space of the Saint Marys Hospital Library and Knowledge Services on February 22.  With construction dust settled and the punch-list finished, the new facility exemplifies the library of the 21st century by blending technological enhancements, a focused collection of traditional resources and comfortable spaces for individual or collaborative learning.  Other merriment in February included an Open House with exhibits, treats, and door prizes.  A dessert reception celebrated the administrative support of leaders in Education Administration and Mayo Clinic Administration for the extensive renovation project.

Project planning and construction occurred throughout 2010 and the dramatic transformation of the facility ensures that the library can meet current and future needs of learners of all kinds in a welcoming place on the Saint Marys campus.

This is the first major refurbishment of the library since the relocation to Marian Hall in 1990.  In 2008 an inventory of all non-clinical space at Saint Marys Hospital afforded a critical self-evaluation of the current library facility.  A selective survey of committed library users provided rich input for strategic, innovative reflection on the library needs of employees and students, particularly the significance of the “library as a physical place”.  The opportunity to design new library configurations by distributing lesser-used materials elsewhere and rethinking existing user areas enabled the library to transform to a learner-centered space to best meet expressed user needs. Unmet needs mentioned frequently in survey responses included: more computer access, technology improvements, and enhanced flexibility for both private and group study.

The process involved library staff and library colleagues from throughout the Mayo Clinic Libraries, Facilities Project Services managers, construction and project supervisors, contractors from various trades, as well as staff from departments such as Environmental Services, Facilities Services, Security, and Media Support Services.  The team worked on preparation, design, and construction in multiple phases, oftentimes several phases concurrently.  Everyone’s exceptional efforts meant minimally disrupted access to library services, collections and computers.  The regular library hours continued.  A thank you display at the Open House events showcased sixty names of individuals and departments who contributed to a successful and memorable renovation.

To repurpose the library footprint optimally for users rather than to house resources, the book and journal collection was cut in half. Energized with a combined sixty years of collection management expertise, librarians discerned which books and journals to remove and which materials to retain onsite.  Priority for retention was given to items used often and in specialties of Saint Marys Hospital such as cardiology, critical care, pediatrics, psychiatry and emergency medicine as well as Catholic health care.

Creative options for the dispersal of excess books and journals included:

  • Coordinating book sale fundraisers with proceeds for the Poverello Foundation, a ministry to patients of Saint Marys Hospital with financial need
  • Contributing age-appropriate books to the History of Medicine collection of the Mayo Clinic Libraries
  • Transferring materials related to the heritage of Saint Marys Hospital to the Mayo Clinic Historical Unit
  • Offering books and journals to other library locations locally and regionally
  • Shifting books and journals to remote storage in Rochester or to the Minnesota Library Access Center
  • Participating in Mayo Medical School book drives to support educational initiatives in underserved areas
  • Partnering with a vendor with a specialization in book re-sale, certain funds returned to Mayo Clinic Libraries

A telemedicine-related project in Rochester occurred coincidentally just as the library’s de-selection project came to a close.  A Mayo Clinic art director delighted in a gift of the last remaining volumes, those with visual appeal or antique style, for set dressing newly constructed e-consult rooms.

The completed renovation greatly exceeds expectations of library staff and users. Highlights of the new Saint Marys Hospital Library and Knowledge Services:

  • Group study and collaborative spaces — multimedia/technology-capable
  • Service desk and consultation area
  • Privacy alcove with paging phones
  • Additional general workstations and clinical application computers
  • Convenient laptop connections
  • Self services area
  • Comfortable lounge-style seating and quiet areas
  • Current journals display
  • Individual and group seating areas
  • Shelving for print journal collection and book collections

The redesign of the library staff work area and offices improved sight lines and encourages interactions with coworkers and individuals seeking assistance. Library staff have expertise in the complex health care knowledge environment and can readily assist Mayo Clinic employees and students in the linking of knowledge and critical decision making for clinical practice, education and research.

Regular patrons and new visitors alike are amazed at the changes and expressly grateful. The vision of the project has been realized — to meet the learning needs of employees and students at Saint Marys Hospital and Mayo Clinic in a contemporary library setting that can continue to be an inviting destination for the hospital community for many years.

Related Articles

Adamson MC, Bunnett BP. Planning library spaces to encourage collaboration.  Journal of the Medical Library Association 2002 Oct; 90(4):437-41.

Bennett S. Libraries and learning: a history of paradigm change.  Portal: Libraries and the Academy 2009; 9(2):181-97.

Lynn VA, FitzSimmons M, Robinson CK. Special report: symposium on transformational change in health sciences libraries: space, collections, and roles.  Journal of the Medical Library Association 2011 Jan; 99(1):82-7.

Young DJ. Get to effective weeding.  Library Journal 2009 Nov 15; 134(19):36.

Mona Stevermer, Librarian
Saint Marys Hospital Library and Knowledge Services

Entry filed under: Feature Articles.

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