This week, finishing touches will be made to the
$300,000 renovation project on the
William H. Welch
Medical Library's main lobby. The work is the first
stage of a much broader effort to transform Welch into a
more user-friendly facility to better serve its 18,000
Once seen as a dark, security-heavy and uninviting
entrance, the lobby has metamorphosized into a larger, more
high-tech and welcoming area.
The lobby now features new flooring, enhanced
lighting, freshly painted walls and a cafe, Books and
Beans. The renovated space, which will have wireless
Internet access, will contain a touch-screen directory and
a wide-screen plasma monitor to display a slide show of
various library functions, services, activities and
Previously, the first things visitors noticed when
entering Welch's lobby was an obtrusive security desk and a
walk-through scanner. These have been moved to a less
"We wanted to open up the space. Over the years, [the
lobby] has increasingly added barriers for visitors to
contend with and was not a very welcoming environment,"
said Kate Oliver, associate director of Welch and a
research associate in the Division of Health Sciences
Informatics. "The hope is that this renovated space will be
a much more visually appealing and inviting one for our
The renovations come as a result of a long-term
architectural study of the 74-year-old East Baltimore
library that began three years ago. The plan is to
transform the library by the year 2015 into a virtual
operation where customers access materials primarily in
electronic form; many of the books in the stacks today will
be put into the university's storage facility at Moravia
The lobby renovation work began in September and is
expected to be completed next week.
Books and Beans is scheduled to open on Jan. 12. The
cafe will offer a full-service coffee and espresso bar,
baked goods, sandwiches, bottled beverages, smoothies and
gourmet candy. Its hours will be from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,
Monday to Friday.
Books and Beans is sponsored by the Women's Board of
The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and all profits will benefit
patient care at the hospital and the board's charitable
projects. In addition to the new Welch Library site, the
Women's Board operates coffee bars at the hospital,
Outpatient Center and Johns Hopkins at Greenspring.
To celebrate the renovation and the opening of the new
cafe, Welch will host an open house between 4 and 6 p.m. on
Jan. 28. Library staff will be on hand to offer information
about library services and programs.
Like other medical libraries, Welch is primarily a
journal-based operation that meets the specific and timely
demands of clinicians. Currently, the library has more than
3,000 journals available electronically, and the plan is to
put more journals and databases online in the coming
Nancy Roderer, director of the Welch Medical Library,
said that the long-term plan is to move the librarians out
into the user community where the information materials are
delivered and used. Roderer said that the library plans to
introduce what are called "touchdown" suites, virtual or
physical spaces within academic departments where faculty
members will be able to access library materials or consult
with a librarian. There is a traveling training touchdown
currently in operation in the Oncology Department, and four
more suites are in the planning stages. Welch is exploring
opportunities for others around the medical campus. The
next one will open this spring in the Broadway Research
The Welch's main branch at 1900 E. Monument St.
eventually will become a conference and historical center
housing--once books are removed--a faculty club, meeting
space and expanded facilities for the Historical
Collection, the library of JHU's Institute of the History
of Medicine. The Welch Library once housed a doctors'
dining room in the building's West Reading Room.
The main branch also could become the new home for the
Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, currently housed in an
office suite at 2024 E. Monument St.
Welch services the schools of Medicine, Nursing and
Public Health, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kennedy
Krieger Institute, which comprise an estimated customer
base of 18,000. In addition to its main branch, the library
has six satellites located at the various medical
institutions. The building is named for the School of
Medicine's first dean, William H. Welch, honoring his role
in the library's creation and the founding of the Institute
of the History of Medicine, also housed there.
For more information on the Welch Library, go to