Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library History: Part Six 2010's

Chapter 2, Changing Access

On October 4, 1971 the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library was dedicated, bringing health sciences library services to a permanent home at the University of Utah. From the beginning, we have been known for pioneering new ideas, new technologies, and innovative partnerships. This exhibition series will showcase our history, from the first health sciences library collection in 1908 to the present-day.

2010’s Table of Contents:

  1. Evolution of Space
  2. Changing Access
  3. Innovative Service
  4. Discovering Technology
  5. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  6. Notable Events, Faculty, & Staff

Conversation between Jean Shipman, MLIS, Former Eccles Library Director
& John Langell, MD, Former Director Center for Medical Innovation.
Source: Jean Shipman Oral History

Conversation between Jean Shipman, MLIS, Former Eccles Library Director
& Vivian Lee, MD, Former Senior Vice President of Health Sciences,
Dean of School of Medicine, and CEO of University of Utah Health.
Source: Jean Shipman Oral History

Operation Journal Jettison

Beginning in 2009, the physical collection of books and bound journals began a five year journey across multiple floors of the library, multiple locations on campus, and eventually into countless industrial sized recycle bins in 2013 & 2015.

The migrating collection initially began as part of the library’s ceiling project; in order for construction crews to complete the removal of asbestos, installation of a new fire alert and sprinkler system, replacement of network wiring, installation of new overhead lights, solar tubes, and new ceiling tiles. As outlined in the previous section, construction began October 2009 and continued on the Garden Level into 2011 and restarted in 2014.

EHSL 90s

Before the installation of the compact shelving system in the Garden Level, print volumes were housed in stacks across all three levels of the Eccles Library. Once the construction and installation of the compact shelving was complete, the remaining print collection on the Main and Upper Levels was systematically moved into its new compact home on the Garden Level.

The collection would not stay here for long.

After no more than a year of residing in the compact shelving the decision to transform the library into a Discovery Center was made and the books had to go.

Only sixty book titles have circulated more than five times
in the past three years; only 4% of the journal volumes have
been used even once in the past three years.
[…] The resulting
open space made available by moving materials will increase
the value of this space to all of us!”

“Library staff thrives on evidence, and this makes it clear
that storing [the remaining] materials in a remote site,
with on-demand retrieval as needed by users, will not be
too inconvenient.”

Jean Shipman, Former Director, Eccles Library, eSynapse Newsletter, Volume 28 #1, 2013

Operation Journal Jettison Timeline

  • May 2013 – Operation Journal Jettison Begins
  • June 2013 – 10% of the print collection weeded
  • September 2013 – 90% of the print collection weeded
  • October 2013 – Weeding Project Completed

Reserve books were moved to shelving surrounding
the front desk on the main floor while the remaining
“high use” materials were transferred to their
next home at the Library Storage Facility on
Guardsman Way
. This would only be a temporary
home as the smaller but still sizeable collection also
found its final resting place in yet another recycling
bin the summer of 2015.

The Eccles Library weeded nearly 150,000
volumes of print journals and books.

That’s 400,000 pounds or 200 tons of material,
the equivalent of: the Sphinx, a blue whale or 15
school buses full of kids

If we were to stack all those volumes one on top of
the other, the resulting tower of books would be
16,250 feet high, the equivalent of: 13 Empire
State Buildings
stacked on top of each other or
triple the height of Mount Timpanogos

“One thing I would redo is the removal of the collection. We did it all ourselves in nine months because this donor needed to speed up the process. We did it physically ourselves. I would not put the staff through that again, because it was very hard.”

Jean Shipman, Former Director, Eccles Library

Synapse Innovation Space

The Garden Level transformation was completed in early June 2014.

The removal of the print collection created a new space for meetings, lounging, studying and group interactions.

Conference rooms, group work bays, a presentation corner that can be set-up for lectures and events as needed, the simulation center, several offices, lounge areas and a small kitchenette rounded out the renovations for the Eccles Library and Center for Medical Innovation.

Transition to Digital

Statistical analysis indicated that usage of existing print resources had dwindled by 75% in recent years, from a combined total of 82,017 circulation and in-house uses in 2005 to 19,899 in 2013.

Christy Jarvis, Joan M. Gregory, Jean Shipman from Books to Bytes at the Speed of Light: A Rapid Health Sciences Collection Transformation



At the conclusion of the Journal Jettison Project the “bookless library” replaced the print journal collection with “a combination of access methods” including: “traditional interlibrary loan services, the activation of Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC) Get It Now article delivery service, and the purchase of electronic journal back files,” which are still in use today.

24/7 Access

A survey was circulated in 2016 asking students about their thoughts on shortening the library’s hours of operation. The message received was loud and clear. “Absolutely not!”

Students soon began advocating for 24/7 building access. Safety, the cost of additional security and “keeping the lights on” were the primary issues arising from enabling such access.

After securing additional funding the Eccles Library became accessible to all health sciences students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week beginning April 2018.

No-Cost InterLibrary Loan

Providing InterLibrary Loans (a service where a patron of one library can borrow materials from another library) free of charge has long been a goal of the Eccles Library.

Initially revenues generated from charging for InterLibrary Loan services were an important source of library revenue. However, by 2016 the revenue generated had been declining as more digital access became available.

To further increase access to digital materials by removing the barrier of ILL payment EHSL opened up ILL services to students, faculty & staff free-of-charge in July 2016.

[ILL photo here]