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Bioethics Research Library rejuvenated following redesign

The Kennedy Institute of Ethics is pleased to announce that furniture renovations to the Bioethics Research Library at Georgetown University (BRL) are complete. This exciting transition marks an overhaul informed by the functional needs of the scholars and students who commingle in this historic space.

The library, which began as a few shelves of books collected by early Institute scholars, has since grown in parallel with the interdisciplinary field of bioethics itself. Today it stands as the world’s most extensive collection of materials on ethics, medicine, and biomedical research. Inspired by this history, library staff took the opportune lull offered by the summer months to give the BRL its most dramatic update since 1989, when renovations were done to return the space from cubicles and office space to a functioning library.

Highlights of the renovation came from the family of designers at Thos. Moser, who lent their craftwork to the creation of some 34 new chairs in the space. Utilizing methods developed by the Amish for making wagon wheel spokes, the Newport chair, a nuanced replication of the Windsor chair, was created. The style was originally popularized in the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island in the 1760s, and now graces the interior of the BRL.

“There was some thought to select furniture in order to make the space versatile for both reflective study and events,” said Mark Hakkarinen, Head of Information Services, when asked about the transformative impact of the furniture on the space and the rationale behind the various design and usability choices that were made. He reiterated: “Thos. Moser was selected to match the aesthetic, longevity, and historical presence of Healy Hall.”

In addition to their craftsmanship and history, the Thos. Moser pieces offered a chance for library staff to demonstrate their commitment to continued sustainability efforts. Hardwood for all Moser furniture is sustainably harvested from Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Plateau, and each piece is finished with natural ingredients: linseed oil, carnauba beans, and beeswax.

The library will also feature four new study carrels to be named and dedicated in honor of founding figures LeRoy Walters, Tom Beauchamp, Robert Veatch, and Doris Goldstein-celebrating their long tenure at the Institute and transformative work in the field of bioethics.

When the Institute hosts visiting researchers, it welcomes them by reserving a carrel for the duration of their visit and puts the materials they are studying on hold for them there.

So what does this mean for patrons? The library will remain dedicated to making its unique resources available to its local and global community of researchers and practitioners—but they’ll now be able to do so from the comfort of these historically-inspired fittings.

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