Health sciences library renovation brings Don Quixote downstairs

Sculpture of Don Quixote, Library of the Health Sciences

A sculpture of Don Quixote by ’38 medical alumnus Maurice Pearlman will move to the first floor when the Library of the Health Sciences renovation is completed. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services


The Library of Health Sciences is being updated for the digital age.

Construction began in June on a gut rehab of the first floor, the first renovation since the building was completed in 1972.

“Libraries evolve as education evolves,” said Jay Jurek, user experience librarian, who is overseeing the project. “We’re moving from print to digital. We have fewer staff members now, so we’re repurposing office and stack space to expand user space without increasing the footprint.”

The renovation is expected to be ready for a soft opening in November, with a grand opening in the spring.

The new first floor will have 33 percent more user space, including 12 open study rooms with individual and group workstations, a reading room, an imaging studio with a 70-inch flat panel and touch-interactive display, a lobby display wall and a sunny 1,300-square-foot cafe that will serve fresh coffee and packaged foods.

Jurek, who has worked in the UIC libraries for 10 years, spent the greater part of a year meeting with library users and faculty to determine how the Library of Health Sciences should be updated.

One important factor was the library’s role as a regional library in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. A 2,200-foot classroom with a sound-resistant partition, desktop workstations, projectors, high-definition cameras and two-way speakers helps support that purpose.

“The first floor won’t be austere, it will be pleasant environmentally,” Jurek said. “Besides UIC health sciences, it will serve medical practitioners from the Illinois Medical District and users of the national medical library network. We developed the design to further the library as a community center.”

To lend a welcoming touch, a whimsical, anatomically correct sculpture of Don Quixote will be moved to the first floor from the library’s special collections department.

The sculpture was rendered entirely from hemostats, forceps and other surgical tools by Maurice D. Pearlman, a 1938 graduate of the College of Medicine. Pearlman’s Quixote tilts at a windmill made of four crutches marked, “Injustice,” “Ignorance,” “Poverty” and “Fear & Despair,” all leading to a centerpiece that reads, “Disease.”

The renovation is funded by the library/IT student assessment, which is allotted to facility upgrades that directly benefit student learning.


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