A Day in the Life at UNMC

A Day in the Life . . . Kicking back at McGoogan

UNMC librarian Dawn Wilson checks out the McGoogan Library of Medicine’s latest addition to its collection . . . of chairs.

If you’re going to ask for a feature story on reclining chairs, the best time to do it would probably be a slow day during a slow week – the kind of “just before the holiday” Tuesday during which a reporter might think, “I wouldn’t mind sitting in a recliner for a couple of minutes.”

So that’s when Marie Reidelbach, interim director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine – demonstrating her news savvy – sent me her e-mail. The library has just upgraded its recliner stock, adding 10 brand-new leather/vinyl models from Nebraska Furniture Mart. How about some coverage?

Now, that’s not exactly 10 new copies of “Gray’s Anatomy.” But, as Reidelbach assured me, those recliners will see plenty of action.

Group study sessions. Quiet reading time.

And naps. Lots of naps.

“It’s not at all unusual to see residents or clinicians asleep in the recliners,” Reidelbach said.

In fact, librarian Teri Hartman makes the recliners a regular stop when she’s chaperoning a tour of high school or middle school students.

“I always ask them, ‘Why do you think we have recliners?’” she said.

The students usually say something about the library wanting them to be comfortable. Which is technically true, but not the answer Hartman is looking for.

“I say, ‘What do you think your day is going to be like when you’re a student or resident here?’” she said. “’You’ll see a patient at 4 a.m., have a presentation at 10 a.m., then have an exam at 2 p.m.’”

An area on the seventh floor, featuring recliners and a couch, has become such a popular napping site that the librarians refer to it as “the lounge” and used to stock it with newspapers and magazines — so the med students could fall asleep over People magazine instead of textbooks.

“We want this place to be like their living room,” Hartman said. Because, she adds, they don’t get to go home very much.

In fact, when the library was first renovated 15 years ago, “more comfortable seating” vied with “better lighting” for the improvement most students and faculty members wanted to see, Reidelbach said. It’s not hard to understand – a picture of the University Hospital’s library reading room circa 1927 shows a selection of wooden office chairs that must have been hard to comfortably sit in, let alone steal a catnap.

The reading room at University Hospital in 1927.

That won’t be a problem with the new recliners. Still, the napping that goes on is infrequent and in small portions.

“The library is a pretty lively place, and one probably could only count on 10 to 15 minutes to really get some down-time, but that might be just enough,” Hartman said. “We are just glad to offer our students and residents the ability to rest and recover — even a little bit — before they head back into the fast-paced world of learning about health care and caring for UNMC and The Nebraska Medical Center patients.”

And if someone starts snoring?

“Up to now,” Hartman said, “that has never been an issue.”

Incoming UNMC student Maurice Chessmore checks out the library — and checks his phone while kicking back in a comfortable recliner.

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