Countway Reopens Post Renovations
Purpose behind the renovation
The 2019-2021 renovation transformation allows Countway to engage and align users to its mission of service, education, and research by capitalizing on the strengths of its space, staff and collections. The library demonstrates leadership in its commitment to interdisciplinary activities that serve all its users and provides them with resources and space when needed. It is Countway’s responsibility to share its rich resources with Harvard’s Medical and Dental Schools, and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as well as the entire Longwood Medical area. Other principles are fostering diversity through building community and bringing the inside out and the outside in. This strategic space plan gives meaning and relevance to Countway Library as we embark on our information pathway of the 21st century. The renovation project objectives were crafted based on the importance of creating a space that is reflective of a modern-day Health Science & Medical Library, as well as a program that aligns, supports, and reflects HMS strategic goals:
- Promoting Innovation, Discovery & Academic Excellence, Increasing Collaboration
- Enabling Success through Developing People
- Process Improvement and Advanced Technology
- Building a Culture of Diversity & Inclusion
- Organizing our Intellectual Community to Solve Societal Problems.
The three phases of this transformation bring new collaborative spaces, meeting rooms, group study areas, an additional entrance at Huntington Avenue, and accessibility improvements.
Phase 1 of the renovation began in October 2019 and focused on improvements to the second floor, which consist of a new Russell Reading Room, new employee offices, mother’s room, prayer/meditation room, chat rooms, group study rooms, additional restrooms (women, men, and all gender), and architectural finishes in the second-floor atrium. In addition, Phase 1 included the installation of a bridge over the courtyard from Huntington Avenue to a brand-new entrance on the east side of the library. The bridge on Huntington Avenue will promote community collaboration and lead to an interprofessional, mutual space for everyone to go, regardless of affiliation.
Phase 2 of the renovation began immediately after Phase 1 in Spring 2020. This included the relocation of the Russell Reading Room to the second floor, relocation of the circulation desk to Lower Level 1, new security desk station, new entrance, a café, pop-up COOP, multi-function meeting rooms, and updated restrooms.
Phase 3 primarily consisted of improvements to the Shattuck Street entrance, new landscaping, and improved accessibility inside and outside of the library.
With Countway’s goals for the renovation in mind, the construction company and architect firm enabled the library to offer new features and resources to the Longwood community. For example, a technologically advanced 3D anatomy visualization system for anatomy and physiology education called the Anatomage Table highlights the new Maker Space room on the first floor. Also, self-serve lockers have been installed on Lower Level 1 for patrons who put books on hold and are accessible with the use of a code. In addition, the Countway renovation leads the HMS campus by adhering to the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Furniture vendors that adhere to this standard were selected, and the library supports the healthcare without harm initiative through its furnishings and designs. Lastly, the building will become more accessible both indoors and outdoors, welcoming everyone to experience the library for all its offerings.
Architectural features include but are not limited to:
- Natural Light/ views
- Studying + coffee/ café
- Places for study breaks/ interdisciplinary events/ collaboration
- Structured study space: table surface for materials, ergonomically appropriate
- Multi-use instruction/ event space
- Variety in display/ exhibit settings
The road ahead
Countway officially opened its doors to Harvard Longwood Medical Campus students for study and book pickup on Wednesday, January 6th 2021. The library Safety Ambassadors, a concierge type service that Countway has implemented to guide students to their reserved study seat while explaining the library’s policies and procedures, are finding that students need to stop and take it all in. Students are overwhelmed, but more so exhilarated and inspired by the new space, and have expressed gratitude that the library is open and available during these unprecedented times. The natural light and general openness of the first floor moves users to feel a strong sense of welcome, warmth, and belonging as they arrive through the new Huntington Ave. entrance. Sometimes with tears in their eyes, students explain how grateful they are to have somewhere else besides a dorm room or apartment to sit, study, and relax. In fact, Countway has served as more than a change of scenery to study. Many students are using the space as a place to physically and mentally prepare for their COVID vaccination appointment at one of the affiliated hospitals and/or get refitted for N-95 masks in order to see patients at the Dental Clinic.
The library re-opening is more than a study space for students. It is a home and a safe, sacred space. The amount of gratitude and appreciation shown from students over the past month has left Director and Head Librarian, Elaine Martin, nostalgic over this project, but more so hopeful for the future of the library. She expresses that we all have truly “experienced the power of the Countway space to welcome us, comfort us. and inspire us these opening days. 2020 was a transformational year. The library re-opening gives the Longwood community a new, refreshing, and positive environment in which to work, study, and research. And for that I too am grateful.”
Countway’s limited on-site services are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with a cleaning protocol in place from 1 to 2 p.m. each day. Individual study spaces must be reserved through the online reservation system before entering the library. All other library services involving research and education, or the Center for the History of Medicine are available remotely via Ask Countway. For more regular library updates, follow Elaine’s weekly blog postings and Countway's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media channels.
Countway Construction Resumes
On Tuesday, May 26th, Lee Kennedy (our Construction Management Company) re-entered the library after a long pause. Following specific, state-approved COVID-19 health and safety protocols, construction crews returned to Countway on June 1st.
While the physical building may remain closed to patrons, all library services are OPEN. Countway has served as second responder during the pandemic, contributing to the information needs of clinicians, researchers, and students. While our electronic resources are particularly important during this time, we also need the library building and the library renovation. What we have learned during this time, is that people miss human connection and want to be physically together. The Countway Library renovation addresses this need and the renovated library will be a place where the entire LMA community can come together and collaborate, practice social honoring, experience a diversity of ideas and interdisciplinary practice, and enhance research and scholarly endeavors.
As a result of the construction pause, the timeline for completion of the renovation will be extended. It is now projected the work will continue until January 2021. In addition, the schedule has been adjusted to begin work on the first floor and outside the building simultaneously to avoid working on the new entrance and plaza areas in the winter months. The bulk of the remaining renovation will be concentrated on the new entrance, café, COOP, plaza, bridge, handicap ramps, installation of computer systems and book hold lockers, and Russell Reading Room finishes.
As we plan to restart services that require in-building access, Countway staff are rising to the challenge and finding opportunities to help during unprecedented times. When they are not scheduled to be onsite, Countway staff will continue to work from home until the campus and its libraries officially reopen at full capacity, and all other Countway services will remain remote.
We are thrilled to be able to share this good news, and I encourage you to stay connected and updated on Countway’s happenings by regularly visiting the Director’s Corner.
Healthy Building Initiative
There are over 80,000 chemicals in the building materials market today, many of which are unregulated and associated with long-term health & environmental problems. In 2016, the Harvard Office for Sustainability was awarded an inaugural grant from the President's Administrative Innovation Fund to establish the Healthier Building Materials Academy, with the intent to identify and track high-risk chemicals in building materials and eliminate exposure in the University’s built environment.
At the Countway Library Renovation, the Harvard Office of Sustainability worked with the design team to ensure that the following building materials do not contain the targeted high-risk chemicals:
- Wall finishes, including paints, wall tile, grout, and wall bases
- Flooring finishes, including carpet, rugs, walk off mats, ceramic tile, terrazzo flooring
- Millwork, including countertops and casework
- Ceiling tiles & finishes
- Window treatments, including roller shades
The Harvard website describing this materials initiative in greater detail is located at the Harvard Sustainability website.
Access Services Update
With the Countway Library renovation taking shape, Access Services staff is reviewing workflows and re-thinking the ways in which we deliver services to patrons. Some changes include: relocating the service desk and staff offices; re-opening the Russell Reading Room with an open course reserves collection; and implementing technology that enhances access to collections. The new library will be a welcoming and bright space for patrons and staff, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
With the service desk moving from the first floor to L1 and the staff offices moving to the second floor, one of the main goals of the renovation is to facilitate communication between colleagues throughout the building. As part of this initiative, Access Services and Research and Instruction staff will be piloting Microsoft Teams, a virtual shared work space and collaboration tool. The pilot’s effectiveness will be evaluated during the spring semester.
Print course reserves have historically been available from staff at the service desk. In the newly renovated space, open course reserves will be available for self-service in the new Russell Reading Room located on the second floor. Students will be able to use the reserves collection in the reading room or borrow books for 3-hours using the shelf-checkout machine.
Countway will also unveil a new book locker system which will be located on L1 and provide patrons with access to requested material whenever the building is open. Instead of picking up requested material from the service desk, patrons will be notified via email when their material is ready for pickup from a locker. Additional patron services located on L1 will include a self-checkout machine as well as a book scanner. All of these services will enhance access to the collection in the renovated space.
Dedicated staff in Access Services will remain an important first point of contact for the Countway community. Beth, Erika, Keith and Mike will be available to provide assistance and support for your library needs and are looking forward to seeing in the newly renovated library!
Perceptible Changes Begin
October marks some of the first notable changes to library space that patrons will observe as Countway renovations are now underway. Two of the most significant changes that users will notice are with respect to group study spaces, and the temporary relocation of 2nd floor librarian offices that were formerly along wall at the Huntington Avenue side of the library. In both cases, accommodations have been made to minimize the impact, and adapt our services to the ongoing changes that we face during this phase of renovations.
Group Study Spaces: Regarding the group study areas, a specific change that users should note is that advanced reservations for group study rooms will not be possible after October 11th. During the past 18 months, many patrons have used our online room-booking service to reserve group study rooms on the 2nd floor or Lower Level 1 (LL1). As most of these group study rooms are on second floor, and renovation activity has now begun, the room-booking service will be suspended until Spring 2020. We will bring back a room-booking service once the renovations of the 2nd floor study areas are complete. Until then, group study rooms will be available on a first-come/first-serve basis. As always, groups studying together will have priority in group study rooms. Therefore, if you are studying alone in a group study room, you may be asked to allow a group to use the group study room. We respectfully ask that you cooperate with the group and allow them to use the room. (A “group” is defined as 2 or more people studying together).
Relocation of Librarian Offices: Both the Research & Instruction team of librarians, as well as the Digital Scholarship unit (including experts in Bioinformatics, Research Data Management, and Scholarly Publishing) have all relocated from the 2nd floor to temporary offices on the 1st floor. These offices are stationed behind the circulation desk. As before, patrons are welcome to approach us with questions at any time and we are happy to help. As a reminder, the best way to ensure your question reaches the appropriate expert, is to submit your question using the online “Ask Countway” form. The “Ask Countway” form also ensures that a librarian will be available for a full 30-60 minute consultation with you. Indeed, if you are looking for one of the librarians, please approach the circulation desk with your question, and the circulation staff will guide you from there.
The internal preparations for our renovation are continuing to move along. Art is being de-installed from August 21st to August 23rd. On these days there will be longer wait times for the elevators and noise in the library. Construction documents and building permits are being requested and submitted this month. Phase one of the renovation is set to begin on October 7, 2019. In October, the first project outside will be creating a bridge to connect Huntington Avenue to the library. There will also be interior renovations in the library to connect to the bridge. After the bridge, the first floor of the renovation will make space for a Café, Coop bookstore, and an event space. The second floor renovation will redesign staff and student workspace. The Russel Reading Room will move from the first to second floor. The circulation desk will move from the first floor to lower level one. We're thrilled to be moving along with our renovation plans and excited for construction to begin. Thank you for your ongoing patience, support, and flexibility as we create a new exciting library for our students, staff, and faulty to enjoy.
Beginning August 1, Countway will initiate the deinstallation of paintings, sculpture, and Center for the History of Medicine objects, artifacts, and special collections located on floors L2 through 5, including the Warren Anatomical Museum Galley and works hanging in 5th floor conference rooms. The deinstallation, packing, and storage of these collections is a critical first step in preparing the building for renovation. Vibration from equipment, dust generated during construction, off-gassing from paint and adhesives, and the constant movement and use of equipment can significantly compromise the physical integrity of special collections; putting these works in storage is essential to their long-term viability.
Equally important, the deinstallation affords staff the opportunity to reimagine how we share our holdings and plan for the reinstallation of works in new locations to better surface Longwood area contributions to medicine, dentistry, and public health; contextualize our historical collections for users; select for reinstallation those works that enrich the Center’s research, teaching, and learning services; and engage in conversations that promote the use of historical collections to advance both academic and social change.
Center staff are particularly excited about the opportunity to put new objects and specimens on display post-renovation. Over the next year, our Warren Anatomical Museum Curator will be selecting and preparing objects and specimens that have never before been exhibited at Countway for our Gallery reopening in early 2021. While exhibits are off display, the Center will continue to offer by appointment instructional sessions in the Center on L2. Also look for new content and object spotlights on the Countway website and in OnView, the Center’s home for digital exhibits, photographs, museum objects, and more. During this process, we welcome your thoughts and feedback.
- Emily Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director, Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library
What happened to the W’s?
If you visit the southeast corner of L1 (near the men’s rest room), you will notice a range of recently emptied shelves where the general W’s of the collection should be. As we draw nearer to the start of the renovation project, one of the initial things that will need to happen is for utility work to be done in the ceiling space on L1 to accommodate the new café and additional rest rooms that will be added to the first floor. To allow this work to happen as efficiently as possible, these W’s were moved down to L2 (by the farthest wall from the entrance) and this space will become “swing space” for books from other parts of L1 that need to be temporarily moved. Some signage is already on the end caps of these shelves with information on how to find these materials and as items continue to move, ample additional signage will be created.
Current Shattuck Street Entrance:
Artist Rendering of 2nd Countway Entrance for Huntington Avenue:
Creation of program and space that is reflective of a 21st Century Health Science & Medical Library
A program that aligns, supports, reflects HMS strategic goals:
Promoting Innovation, Discovery & Academic Excellence, Increasing Collaboration
Enabling Success through Developing People,
Process Improvement and Advanced Technology,
Building a Culture of Diversity & Inclusion,
Organizing our Intellectual Community to Solve Societal Problems.
Preferences from our Campus
- Natural Light/ views
- Studying + coffee/ café
- Places for study breaks
- Opportunities for interdisciplinary events/ idea exchange
- More collaborative work space
- Structured study space: table surface for materials, ergonomically appropriate
- Multi-use instruction/ event space
- Variety in display/ exhibit settings.
HMS News: Building a Community Space
As the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine prepares to start a transformative renovation this year, Director and Head Librarian Elaine Martin is excited about creating new ways to serve the academic and personal needs of the Harvard Medical School community...