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Rice University
Establishing fondren@brc
Interlibrary loan seems to be the most heavily used service, and researchers seem very happy
with all aspects of it. Course reserves do not seem to be used by the faculty we interviewed.
Instead, professors seem to be putting their own resources into their courses on OwlSpace.
The subject bibliographer has witnessed a steady decline in the number of office visits over the
past five years, and now “face to face contact has diminished to the point where I hardly ever
see them.” Faculty still do email requests and questions, but some faculty seem not read all
email sent to them, so communication remains challenging. However, the department liaisons
work closely with the subject bibliographers.
The faculty we interviewed knew very little about the fondren@brc space and were confused
by the sign by the door describing it as “TMC Library.” One faculty member seemed to
get somewhat upset after hearing that the library would not provide access to Med Center
information resources. Fondren needs to communicate its mission and services for the BRC
space clearly.
III. Life at the BRC
Located at 6500 Main Street, the BRC links Rice with the Medical Center. Currently the BRC
hosts faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergraduate researchers, and affiliated staff in
bioengineering (which is wholly located in the BRC), biochemistry, and chemistry. Currently 27
Rice faculty and their research groups are located in the BRC. In addition, the offices for Gulf
Coast Consortia (GCC) and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)
are based at the BRC. The ten-story building features several lounges, conference rooms, a
28-seat auditorium, a 90 seat seminar room, “state-of-the-art classrooms,” and 10,000 square
feet of retail space (which is as of yet unoccupied). To connect the BRC to the main Rice
campus, a Rice shuttle service stops at the BRC four times an hour and delivers passengers to
campus in less than 10 minutes. A pleasant walking path links the BRC and central campus.
Most faculty spend the majority of their time at the BRC, although occasionally they go to the
central campus to attend lectures or meetings, teach classes, or interact with seminar speakers.
Some classes are held in the BRC, mostly in bioengineering. Graduate students tend to spend
more time on campus, but seem to regard the distance between the central campus and the
BRC as being significant, so they prefer to drive rather than walk. Most of what researchers
need is available at the BRC, although they would like a cafe (one is being planned).
When researchers moved into the BRC in the fall of 2009, the physical infrastructure was not
completely in place. Initially administrators at the BRC focused on the physical structure of
the building, resolving issues such as plumbing problems. Now, work is being done to build
the “social fabric” of the BRC by promoting both “vertical” and “horizontal” integration within
the building, so that researchers know their neighbors on their own floors and throughout the
building. The BRC deliberately mixes together researchers from different departments on the
same floor. To promote community, the BRC hosts a Tuesday morning Bagels and Brew, in
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