For Melissa Just, director of the Lee Graff Medical & Scientific Library, libraries are much more than buildings. “The library as a place is still a vital idea,” she said. “But it is becoming an area of collaboration rather than a place to store books.”
Just came to City of Hope in December from the Norris Medical Library at USC when her predecessor, Elizabeth Wood, retired. Like Wood, Just aims to make the library more relevant to the digital age. “This library is configured on the old model of ‘come in, read and leave,’” she said. “Now libraries are built to accommodate books, meetings and technologies with lots of different purposes.”
In an online library usage survey that Just conducted, researchers overwhelmingly requested more access to online versions of published scientific papers, a need that Just, who describes herself as a “technology person,” is making her first priority.
The survey shows that researchers who never set foot in the building are using the library more than ever.
Just also is responding to needs of visitors who walk in the door. She envisions a space closer to a “Barnes and Noble” model, composed of modular rooms with comfortable chairs, computer monitors and wireless Internet access where people can talk — out of earshot, of course, of visitors who want to study quietly.
“Libraries aren’t always quiet anymore because people don’t work independently like they used to,” Just explained. “We are now expected to do research as a community.”
Just also is seeking to minimize the number of mouse clicks it takes to access scientific papers online, another survey request. She will also make more scientific database searching tools available online.
And while visitors will not find baristas serving lattes and scones in the lobby, they will always find a staff member at the front desk for help during library hours. The library also has added a collection of popular non-science books.
City of Hope staff may learn more about Graff Library through its intranet site at http://library.coh.org.