The vision for the Health Sciences Library’s move into the Health Sciences Education Center developed around a key question, says Library Director Janice Jaguszewski: “How could the library really contribute to teaching and learning to prepare the next generation of health care providers?”

This was a collaborative vision, she says, developed with faculty, staff, and students from health sciences schools. Along with using technology as a tool to deepen student learning, the library wanted to support faculty teaching in new ways, and across disciplines.

“The Libraries are where the professions come together,” Jaguszewski says. “We see ourselves as the glue to support this new way of teaching.”

Health Sciences Library service desk.
Health Sciences Library service desk.

A new toolkit

The new library spaces will bring together a set of tools and resources that will support students throughout their academic careers, and faculty in their teaching, research, and practice. 

Among the new spaces is a Makerspace that encourages innovation and creative problem solving for students and faculty alike.  “They can be health innovators,” using 3-D printers and other tools to devise solutions to barriers or problems they discover in the health care environment, says Jonathan Koffel, Health Sciences Library Emerging Technology and Innovation Strategist. 

Mickey Hafertepe
Mickey Hafertepe demonstrates a 3D printed dilated gallbladder and biliary tree (photo credit Allison Thompson).

The seven 1:Button video recording studios help faculty and students participate in active learning and to complete course assignments. Within the last year, about 2,500 videos were created in just one studio — about half of those by faculty in order to flip their classroom teaching online. 

And the Faculty Commons serves as a pedagogical sandbox, where faculty can work with library staff and academic technologists to learn about new technology and teaching approaches. 

These new spaces combined with the Library’s state-of the art contemporary collection — with 3D anatomy resources and evidence-based point of care tools — and historically significant rare books and artifacts that document the history of health in the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, also located within the Health Sciences Education Center.  

Students looking at oversized rare book.
Students visit the Wangensteen Historical Library to learn from primary resources.

“The Wangensteen Historical Library is one of the top historical health sciences libraries in the country,” Jaguszewski says. With an 80,000+ collection of rare print materials and artifacts ranging from 1430 to 1945, it provides health professional students opportunities to investigate how their professions developed over time, with items from herbal remedies to nurse Clara Barton’s diaries, as well as material for scholars, and primary source items for educators.

Together, this toolkit of spaces, resources, and librarian expertise become a common good across the health sciences disciplines that acts as a catalyst for discovery and innovation. 

Putting the tools to work

 “Health care providers are a very practical  bunch, interested in taking the best tools and concepts to provide the best education, the best care for patients,” Koffel says. “With these new spaces and services, we’re trying to broaden the toolkit for faculty, staff, and students.” Some have already been prototyped and proven valuable for students and faculty. 

Take, for example, the Virtual Reality Studio. Teresa Bisson, Assistant Professor in Physical Therapy, has brought virtual reality to her classroom with the help of Koffel and Allied Health Sciences Librarian Del Reed. 

“Virtual reality has the potential to provide more and improved treatments for patients in rehab, and by introducing our graduate students to that approach, they can be involved in leading that exploration,” Bisson said in a continuum article last September.  

Teresa Bisson demonstrating virtual reality
Teresa Bisson demonstrates virtual reality to her physical therapy class.

More important work is being done in the Data + Visualization Lab. Here, faculty, students, and researchers can access specialized software and workshops that help them visually express their ideas in ways that contribute to health literacy. “So many decisions now need to be informed by data,” Jaguszewski says. “It’s important to know how to present complex ideas so that people understand them.”

Introduced to data visualization through a demonstration, Kristin Janke, Director of the Wulling Center for Innovation & Scholarship in Pharmacy Education, returned later with a project. “When it was time for me to look at data in a different way for a manuscript,” she says, “I thought this would be a situation where data visualization would be more powerful than a summary technique — but I didn’t know what I was doing.”

A novice, she contacted Koffel, who put her in touch with a couple of experts. She described what she was envisioning for her data set and they created initial visualizations. After exploring possibilities and exchanging examples with them, they landed on a successful solution, which was incorporated in her manuscript. “Now I feel like I can think much better about visualization,” she says, “having been through it once with my own data and with knowledgeable partners.”

“They really helped me on the on-ramp,” says Janke.

Feeling excitement

The connected spaces and services will help the leaders of the Health Sciences Library and the health sciences schools realize their vision for interprofessional and technology-integrated health education and health care.

“We think of this as a new building but this is really a new set of services and a new set of expertise we’re getting ready to share with the University,” says Koffel. He wants to get the word out about how tools like virtual reality can influence physicians’ practice and training, data visualization can help public health practitioners to tell their stories, and how the Makerspace can support multimodal learning and innovation among health providers.

“Ultimately, the building is intended for collaboration,” Jaguszewski says. While grand opening plans are on hold given the current restrictions due to the pandemic, everything is in place to support new ways of working. “The value of our collective resources will be visible as we begin to come together again. And by this time next year, it will be amazing.”


Rendering of the new Health Sciences Library entryway.
Rendering of the new Health Sciences Library entryway.

We’re on the move!

In July 2020, the Health Sciences Library moved into the newly constructed Health Sciences Education Center.

Learn more about our move and how you can support innovation in the health sciences as we provide technology rich environments and expertise that will promote new insights into teaching, learning, and research to address the health challenges of our time.

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