$57M UNLV med school library will keep up with changing technology

When Bruce Koeppen was founding dean of the medical school at Quinnipiac University in 2010, he made a decision that mirrored the changing technology landscape around him.

The fledgling school in North Haven, Connecticut, would be a paperless institution.

“The traditional library where you’ve got stacks and stacks of books is a thing of the past,” Koeppen said. “They (medical school students) need instant access to information, and that’s going to be electronic.”

Koeppen made the decision after the school acquired the former headquarters of Anthem Blue Cross. The trajectory he set in motion would govern the design and renovation of the buildings, especially the library.

“Each class comes in even more tech savvy,” Koeppen said. “They can use this faster and better than the faculty.”

The plan for UNLV’s health sciences library — the first phase of a two-prong approach to the medical education complex in the Las Vegas Medical District — is similar in design.

Since 2016, the university has added about 8,000 electronic books. Officials want the health science collection to be 98 percent electronic.

But with this approach, some have questioned the necessity of a $57 million library, or “knowledge commons,” as it has been called.

“I think that it’s nonsense,” said Kris Engelstad McGarry, a trustee of the Engelstad Family Foundation and a major donor to the university. “Have you heard of a $57 million library? I haven’t. It wasn’t earmarked for a library. It was earmarked for a medical school. It is a further sign of the university system not being able to regulate itself.”

However, Mark Doubrava, a member of the state Board of Regents, chairman of the board’s health sciences system committee, and an ophthalmologist, says the library makes sense.

“It’s another learning environment for students from different types of disciplines — medicine, dentistry, nursing — to be at a central location,” he said. “That interaction is important. Medicine, health care is now a team approach.”

Acting UNLV President Marta Meana told the state Board of Regents last month that moving forward on the nearly 49,000-square-foot space will allow the university to make use of the money that’s on hand now.

The funds consist of an anonymous $25 million donation that matched the $25 million in state funds approved in 2017.

Engelstad McGarry, who pulled the foundation’s $14 million commitment to the university upon news this year that former President Len Jessup was leaving, believes that a donor’s wishes should be taken into consideration.

“None of the donors that I have a relationship with are happy or feel any differently that I feel,” Engelstad McGarry said. “Every time they do something like this — proposing a library without consulting donors, without having a real strategic plan — it doesn’t encourage us to want to invest with them at all.”

Meana, however, said that she has had conversations with donors.

“Obviously, it seemed positive to me, which is why we’re going ahead with this approach,” Meana said. “A library was always an integral component of the original building. The only difference here is that we’re building it first.”

Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly agreed.

“The library isn’t a new thing,” he said. “I think library spaces are still used at universities. You can’t totally disregard the use of books. And spaces for libraries, as they incorporate technology, is important.”

‘Cutting-edge research’

Before Hurricane Sandy destroyed the health sciences library at New York University in 2012, the usage of electronic health journals — first appearing online in 1998 — was already a mainstream practice. By 2012, the university had eliminated most of the print versions and relocated some of the resources off-site.

“Students can access journals at the point of need, on their computer,” said Jeff Williams, director of the health sciences library. “It’s more convenient.”

The adoption of e-books, which are longer in format, came along more slowly, Williams said, and a significant number of books were still on-site at the library at the time of the hurricane. However, faced with the damage, the university decided to do away with its physical collection.

“We were the first of the legacy libraries to do this,” Williams said. “But it’s becoming more common with libraries. They’re relying more and more on removing some of their print resources to allow for different uses of that space.”

The 25,550-square-foot renovated library space has nearly 200,000 electronic books and more than 16,000 digital journals, and the space itself is “night and day” in terms of appearance, Williams said.

The library features better lighting, sound control, support for those who bring in their own technology, group study rooms that feature flat screen displays, a library classroom that better supports group learning and a technology innovation room to support 3D printing and data visualization. The library also includes 24 computer terminals, and officials are considering adding more because they’re so heavily used.

“I think it’s been a big success,” Williams said. “It seems to be the kind of library that this medical facility needs presently, and looking forward.”

UNLV’s library — if approved by the state’s Interim Finance Committee on Oct. 24 — will feature 24/7 access to information and current research. Preliminary documents show that the facility will include an instruction room, a learning commons with seating and computers, study carrels, an open group study space, one-, four- and 10-person study rooms, a media production lab, a model skeleton storage area and an information service desk. Plans show that only 800-square-feet of space will be dedicated to book stacks.

“The discipline is a constantly changing discipline,” Maggie Farrell, dean of university libraries at UNLV. “Having electronic access can make sure our students and faculty are getting the most recent research and medical information. If there’s cutting-edge research that released on a Monday, they’ll have it immediately.”

Lauren Hollifield, a second-year UNLV medical school student, said she experienced the ease of access this summer during an internship at Johns Hopkins University. She needed to look up information on post-operative pain related to hip and knee replacements.

“It’s working pretty well,” Hollifield said. “That’s where the future is going. I still like the feel of a real book for personal use, but the easy access is nice instead of flipping through pages.”

Other spaces in the building, apart from the library, include wellness rooms, break rooms, and a cafe.

Farrell said officials have pulled together the “very best ideas and practices” in order to lay the foundation for the library.

“By creating the library as the central hub, the central gathering place, it will help to build that community of students that the School of Medicine wants,” she said.

Building momentum

Higher education officials also believe that moving forward with the library will protect the university from losing both the state’s monetary contribution and the county’s land contribution.

The university must commence construction on the land by July 1, 2021, according to the agreement with Clark County, but the more immediate concern is the upcoming 2019 legislative session, and the $25 million state contribution that’s hanging in the balance.

“It ensures that the money won’t be repurposed,” Reilly said, adding that Gov. Brian Sandoval is “very supportive” of the new approach. “It appears that everybody has a lot of consensus around it.”

Sandoval did not respond to a request for comment.

Officials also believe that moving forward now is critical because of rising construction costs. A 10 percent per year inflation rate was incorporated into the $57 million figure, according to David Frommer, executive director of planning and construction at UNLV.

“The sooner we break ground on something, I think we’re better off,” Doubrava said.

The library will also help to support the school’s desire to increase the medical school class size beyond 60 — the number that’s currently permitted through preliminary accreditation. In addition, officials hope that movement now will spur additional investment from community donors on the second phase of the project, which is estimated to cost $182 million.

“It does show that momentum is there,” Doubrava said. “And once people can see part of the vision, I think that there will be more buy-in and support — certainly financial support — from the philanthropic community.”

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local astronomers host super blood wolf moon viewing
The Las Vegas Astronomical Society paired with the College of Southern Nevada to host a lunar eclipse viewing Sunday night. Known as the super blood wolf moon, the astronomical event won't occur for another 18 years. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @btesfaye
First former felon to work for Nevada Department of Corrections
After his father died, Michael Russell struggled for years with drug addiction. When he finally decided to change for good, he got sober and worked for years to help others. Now he is the first former felon to be hired by the Nevada Department of Corrections. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing