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R.I. foundation gives $1 million for new Med School library

By
Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Rhode Island foundation will give Brown $1 million to fund a new library for the Alpert Medical School, the foundation announced March 25.

The Champlin Foundations announced its plan at the Champlin Scholars Luncheon last month. The library, which will be part of the new Medical Education Building at 222 Richmond St., will be named after one of the founders of the foundation, George Champlin.

“It’s a really important gift,” said Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences. He said he had “no idea” that the foundation was going to announce a donation at the luncheon, though he and President Ruth Simmons had spoken to the foundation six weeks ago to propose the plan.

The groundbreaking for the new building will take place on April 26. After that, it will take “not quite a year and a half” to finish the building, Wing said, adding that medical students will be able to use it in August 2011.

“The library is not going to be what your grandmother’s library was,” Wing said. “So much is online now — students access online textbooks and online journals, and a lot of medical publishing is going online. So a lot of the library is designed for computer access and study space.”

As for undergraduates, there will be some restrictions on their usage of the library, Wing said. “We couldn’t have 6,000 undergraduates coming into the building — they wouldn’t fit,” he said. But the library will be open to undergraduates taking courses at the Med School or needing to speak to its faculty members.

“It’s really about the space, specifically study space,” said Philip Gruppuso, associate dean of medicine. He called the new library the “equivalent” of the Friedman Center in the Sciences Library. “Though it’s obviously a lot smaller, we really used the Friedman Center as a model when we were looking at how (the library) can be configured,” he said.

But unlike the Friedman Center, the library will feature some books and print journals, though its main emphasis will be on electronic textbooks and journals, Wing said.

Gruppuso described “several different zones” in the library: computer stations, places to use a laptop and offices for information technology and for a librarian. He said the library will be not only a “study space, but also a touchdown space for faculty members coming to the building to teach.”

The building itself originated out of a need for more space for medical students, Wing said. The new building will also house the admissions and the financial aid office, among others.

Wing also pointed out that the new building would place students in closer proximity to Providence hospitals. “That’s something that’s really important, and students now aren’t close (to the hospitals) for the first two years,” Wing said.

The Champlin Foundations are a set of three Rhode Island foundations started by the Champlin family to support Rhode Island organizations. The foundation has donated to the University several times in the past and has endowed scholarships for Rhode Island students to attend Brown or the Alpert Medical School, Wing said.

Gruppuso said that its request that the library be named after George Champlin is a “new precedent” for the foundation. “They obviously think that it was just the perfect choice for them, and I think it’s great,” he said.

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