Visit to the Mayo Clinic, 7/18/2007

When I was growing up in Rochester, Minnesota, we didn’t refer to the institution as “The Mayo Clinic.” It was just “The Clinic.” It would be an understatement to say that Mayo is an incredibly huge presence in my home town. When I asked one Rochester local if anything significant had changed in Rochester since my last visit, the local replied that Mayo had “completed its acquisition of downtown.”

After Melissa Rethlefsen escorted me to the venue for the presentation on blogs that I was invited to give for Mayo Libraries 2.0, she and I went out to lunch with MD/PhD student Colin Segovis. The Mayo School of Medicine accepts only 42 students per year, so students there tend to be particularly brilliant- and Colin is no exception. In addition to his medical studies, Colin is a great big geek (and I mean that in the best possible way). Melissa tolerated us both very well and actually looked amused as we degenerated into a sort of constant, geeky buzz. Check out this article that Colin and Melissa co-authored. [Free full-text PDF here]


Above: Mayo MD/PhD Student Colin Segovis and Mayo Librarian Melissa Rethlefsen

As Melissa took me on a tour of Mayo’s many excellent libraries (this took hours and we still didn’t get to a couple of them), I found myself constantly impressed by Mayo’s art and architecture (none of which I’d be able to appreciate without the years of education from my wife, a historian of art and design).

For example, check out this Dale Chihuly installation in Mayo’s new (to me) Gonda Building:

Above: Dale Chihuly installation in Mayo’s Gonda Building. Other views of these can be seen here and here.

I didn’t take any photos of the Warhols.

Melissa’s (medical school) library is lovely. Note the dignified portrait that looks down on those studying below.

Above: Mayo School of Medicine Learning Resource Center

Mayo’s Cancer Education Library:

Plummer Hall:

Plummer Hall Windows:

Click here for more (and better) photos of Mayo’s wonderful libraries

I regret that I failed to take a photo of the beautiful patient library where Susan Mayer works, but it sure was a pleasure to finally meet her. I wish our hospital could provide the kinds of materials and services her library provides to patients and families every day.

I also got to meet Mayo’s head reference librarian, Pat Erwin. Pat is clearly brilliant (and seriously respected by her colleagues) and awfully nice. We talked mostly about cats, a shared interest. 🙂

Debbie Fuehrer (who I have known since I was 14) runs a great patient library of mostly non-clinical materials including recreational reading in multiple languages, movies, and video games. I imagine it is a lot like running a very, very good (but very, very small) public library. It was loads of fun to see Debbie.

Melissa also took me to meet David Brown, head of systems for Mayo Libraries. I liked him immediately because of the huge collection of novels he kept in his office (which, he told me, is a tiny sub-section of his collection). Is it just me, or are all library geeks fans of fantasy or sci-fi (or both)? I really should’ve taken the opportunity to ask questions about what is involved in running Mayo Libraries’ systems, but we talked about things we like reading instead (which reminds me I need to get something to David Brown that I promised to send…)

Of course, the best part of my trip was finally getting to meet Melissa Rethlefsen in person after many months of emailing.

Melissa is even more impressive in person than she is in print (an impressive feat, given her publishing record in recent years) and the Mayo Clinic is very, very fortunate to have her.

One thought on “Visit to the Mayo Clinic, 7/18/2007

  1. We really enjoyed having you here, David! Thanks for the kind words–and come back and visit soon. 🙂