Medical Library: Farewell To Paper

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Medical Library

A half-dozen trolleys full of old journals line the hallway from Debra Ketchell's office in Lane Medical Library's basement to an elevator leading to the ground level. This is the year that the books are leaving.

"By the end of 2006, most of the older books and journals will be gone," said Ketchell, the library's director. They'll be chilling in Stanford's high-density storage space in Livermore-where they're stored at 50 degrees Fahrenheit for preservation.

Like other medical libraries, Lane is quickly moving toward digital access to journal articles and reference books. The allure: Digital libraries allow collections to transcend time and space; they permit users to access information from anywhere, at any time.

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But what makes Lane's move especially urgent is the plan to break ground on the new Learning and Knowledge Center in 2007, the medical school's planned centerpiece building, which includes renovating the current space. "We'll need to move everything out. Then we'll move the core essentials into our temporary housing," she said.

The grand plan has the library opening in a new building in 2009. It will have only a fraction of the books that were on site in 2005.

"We'll have a core collection of reference and study materials-for instance, study guides, core textbooks and new books that aren't online," said Ketchell.

Journal articles not online will be sent digitally within eight hours; books can be requested online for delivery in 24 hours.

From a forecast from members of Stanford University School of Medicine about events and developments to watch in the coming months.

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