Is this school's new bookless library the future of academic libraries?

Collaboration is also a focus

The University of Michigan (UM) is preparing to reopen—and rethink—its Taubman Health Sciences Library after a $55 million renovation that included removing all of the books.

Instead, the library features state-of-the-art technology, collaborative workspaces, classrooms, and a floor dedicated to clinical simulations. "We were focused on creating a building for how learning will happen, not how it used to happen," says Rajesh Mangrulkar, UM's associate dean for medical student education.

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A unique design

To that end, collaboration is hardwired into the library's design. Some classrooms feature mobile furniture and white-board-like surfaces on everything from walls to tables. Mangrulkar hopes the collaborative spaces will bring different types of students together. "We want to get medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students together, possibly along with other disciplines," he says.

Some of the library's more distinct features are uniquely tailored to medical students. The clinical simulation floor is outfitted with 30 replica exam rooms where students can practice examining patients—or in this case, people roleplaying as patients or patient simulation mannequins.

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Cameras in the rooms record video that can be shared with professors to get feedback. 

The library's design was inspired by other buildings both on and off campus. UM visited 10 other medical schools and their libraries nationwide for inspiration.

Leaving books behind—almost

Even Mangrulkar hasn't completely adjusted to the idea of a library without books. "It's crazy because I just expect to see stacks of books going back as far as the eye can see," he says. However, the books have just been moved to another library on campus and can be requested as needed, and most are available electronically (Freed, Ann Arbor News/mlive.com, 8/1).

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