The Safra Business Research Center played a key role in the plans to renovate the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School. Funded by a gift from Republic National Bank of New York, the Center is named for the Safra Family, which includes numerous Penn alumni among its brothers, uncles and nephews. Members of the family have funded the Jacob Safra Professorship of International Banking and Wharton's Global Immersion Program in Brazil.
The heart of the new Lippincott is the Safra Business Research Center.
A gift of the Safra Family and Republic National Bank, the Center brings together service points previously located on separate floors. Some 20,000 square feet that used to house periodical racks and Lippincott's well-worn business reference facility is today a flowing space dotted with computer stations, books and periodical collections, reference and other desk services, a study lounge and meeting rooms. The Safra Center's living-room atmosphere, understated but elegant, is in sharp contrast to the hard linoleum floors, concrete block wallsand exposed lighting fixtures that typify the Van Pelt-Dietrich interior. Furnishings in cherry and slate, created by Thomas Moser, retain the sturdy,functional quality of the surrounding architecture, but with more pleasing contours, textures, and proportions, and a greater emphasis on comfort. Parabolic lighting design provides just the right levels of illumination in reading spaces and computer areas, without harsh fluorescent glare. Along with carpeting and other surface treatments, the lighting beautifies the interior and enhances its ergonomic qualities.
The Safra Center's distinctive design is repeated in four group study rooms and two large seminar rooms new to Lippincott. The seminar facilities are equipped with the most advanced computer projection equipment and high-end computer workstations.
Throughout the Lippincott Library, the latest computer hardware complements the hand-crafted quality of the Moser furniture. Two computer service areas support the wealth of electronic information that distinguish Lippincott as one of the nation's major business libraries. In these spaces, thirty-two Pentium-class workstations share space with Lippincott's extensive reference collections in print. Another forty-four stations, in both carrels and study rooms, are outfitted for laptop computers. Each workstation in Lippincott is a gateway to the Penn Library Information Network, the World Wide Web and other Internet resources. Complete desktop access to the Internet will be available at all laptop stations.
Although the "virtual" library is rapidly emerging at Penn, students and faculty continue to make heavy use of the University's physical library resources, to study, receive instruction, explore new technologies, consult print materials, collaborate on projects or merely day dream. In Lippincott alone nearly 80,000 reference transactions take place each year. Students and faculty spend more than 18,000 hours annually searching Lippincott's CD-ROM and networked systems, and consult Lippincott's World Wide Web pages tens of thousands of times. Over the past decade, more than 7,000 Wharton students and faculty have attended Lippincott training sessions on the use of electronic information--use that continues to spur new demand for online and print resources, as the 20,000 journal articles, and 30,000 tables of contents requested by Wharton faculty indicate.