The Biomedical Library evolves into a dynamic Biotech Commons
Countless collaborations and visionary leadership propel each breakthrough in biotech. At Penn, a global leader in health and life sciences, this path to discovery depends on the expert librarians and comprehensive resources of the Biomedical Library. Soon, the Campaign will reinvent this key space as the Biotech Commons to better complement its strengths—and accelerate its impact.
“The most important word is ‘Commons,’” says Barbara Cavanaugh, Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Libraries at Penn. “A true commons allows for serendipity. It inspires collaboration and cross-fertilization of ideas in unexpected ways. That’s the power of our spaces.”
Design puts a premium on demand. Following a dramatic, multi-phase renovation, the Biotech Commons will exceed users’ expectations as a hub without parallel on campus. The need to rethink what libraries must look like to best empower an academic community is at the center of the transformation. A multi-screen visualization wall, developed with Penn’s Institute for Biomedical Informatics, will allow immersive viewing of data and images. In the interactive maker space, expert design services paired with 3D printing will bring ideas to life as functional products. Faculty and students from all corners of Penn will benefit from unexpected connections made at a new conferencing center. Learning spaces—including one of Penn’s largest active-learning classrooms—will bustle with collaborative activity and, in the quiet reading room, softly hum with gravitas as students focus on independent study. Collaborative study rooms, already popular for research consultations with biomedical librarians, will multiply to serve as the set of even more game-changing advances. For example, a biomedical librarian was a key collaborator on the development of a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline for surgical site infections. As the top-viewed Journal of the American Medical Association article for 2017, it has significantly impacted surgical practice.
Location offers another advantage. “At 36th and Hamilton Walk, we’re at the heart of a burgeoning scientific neighborhood, and are the closest library—in fact, the closest hub of any kind—to the Quad,” Cavanaugh points out. A new entrance and all-glass walls on the north and south faces will reveal the energy inside to passersby, piquing interest and inviting engagement. The anticipated result: a new era of innovation in biotech and beyond—led by the Penn Libraries.