OUWB’s founding medical library director is stepping down in August — having successfully established a system sure to be integral in the education of generations of future physicians.

Founding director of OUWB’s medical library steps down from ‘dream job’
072721 Nancy Bulgarelli 2
OUWB Medical Library Founding Director Nancy Bulgarelli points out books written by faculty. Bulgarelli is stepping down in August — having successfully established a system sure to be integral in the education of generations of future physicians.

OUWB’s founding medical library director is stepping down in August — having successfully established a system sure to be integral in the education of generations of future physicians.

Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Medical Library Founding Director Nancy Bulgarelli, MSLS, will continue to serve Oakland University as a faculty member and frontline librarian at OU’s Kresge Library.

Bulgarelli, who joined OUWB as medical library director before the school welcomed its first class in 2011, says she’s excited about the change.

It will be the biggest career change for her since she left Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit for what was then Michigan’s first new medical school in 50 years.

“Within the first 30 minutes of the interview (at OUWB), I wanted the job so bad I could taste it,” she says. “(The interview panel) had such a compelling vision and they were so excited about building something new.”

Bulgarelli would be offered the chance to join the team behind that building process.

“OUWB has an outstanding library because of Nancy’s vision and hard work,” says Barbara Joyce, Ph.D., retired associate professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

“She created an innovative and nationally recognized library program that has benefitted countless students and faculty.” 

A love for the clinical setting

Bulgarelli was influenced to become a librarian by her older brother, Jeffrey. Her plan was to eventually work at Detroit Public Library, like he did.

While in school, Bulgarelli landed a job at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where her primary role was to photocopy articles.

072721 Nancy Bulgarelli 1


“I fell in love with being in a clinical setting — that sense of mission, that sense of contributing to patient care,” she says. “I never looked back.”

Bulgarelli would go on to earn two degrees from Wayne State University: a bachelor’s in Art History with minors in Classics and Latin, and a master’s degree in Library Science.

In 1987, she began working at the medical library of Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. Bulgarelli would be there for 18 years before moving into a similar position at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

She loved the fast pace of the hospital library.

“You’ve got large residency programs, students rotating in and out, nursing students, physical therapy students — you’re supporting educational programs, but you’re also supporting the clinical program,” she says. “I always said it’s the best job in the hospital because you’re involved in patient care, but there’s none of those messy body fluids.”

‘This became my dream job’

Bulgarelli was recruited by the OUWB search committee seeking a director for a medical library.

She says it felt “nice” to be recruited, but wasn’t really interested in leaving Henry Ford. One of her colleagues at Henry Ford — Barbara Joyce — encouraged her to apply.

Barbara Joyce retires, Jan. 3, 2020


“(Nancy) and I worked closely together at Henry Ford Health System and I knew her work was outstanding,” says Joyce. “Nancy envisioned a library that would contain a wealth of electronic resources and databases long before it was popular. When the recruiter called, I encouraged (Nancy) to consider it.”

Bulgarelli eventually threw her hat into the ring, and was interviewed by a panel that consisted of OUWB Founding Dean Robert Folberg, M.D., Angela Nuzzarello, M.D., former associate dean for Student Affairs, Michele Raible, M.D., founding associate dean, OUWB, and Linda Gillum, Ph.D., former associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs.

Robert McAuley, Ph.D., associate dean for Institutional Effectiveness, also was part of the panel and the only one still with the school. 

“They talked about the vision of a compassionate physician,” says Bulgarelli. “They all were really interested in training physicians to use information and practice evidence-based medicine.”

Bulgarelli says that appealed to her, as well as their collective interest in having as many digital library assets as possible and having librarians involved in teaching students “how to use information ethically, responsibly, and efficiently.”

“I had what I thought was my dream job at Henry Ford, and then I heard the vision for this school,” she says. “This became my dream job.”

McAuley says he remembers Bulgarelli’s excitement about having the opportunity to play a major role in designing and delivering the OUWB curriculum.

“It was obvious to the committee that Nancy understood and embraced Bob Folberg’s vision for a medical school that produced kind and compassionate physicians with a commitment to lifelong learning,” he said.

 ‘They took a chance on us’

Once hired, Bulgarelli began the process of building out OUWB’s library. At that time, it essentially meant one study room in Kresge Library for OUWB’s inaugural class of 50 students.

Bulgarelli says it was an exciting time, especially some days — like when the library’s furniture was delivered


Five OUWB faculty members offer insights into teaching Gen Z med students

OUWB Class of 2021 Celebrates Commencement

Match Day 2021: OUWB’s Class of 2021 headed to residencies across the U.S.

“It was really important that we have 50 seats in that room so we could say that we could seat every student in the medical library, and we jammed 50 seats in that room,” recalls Bulgarelli.

When the first class arrived for orientation, Bulgarelli says she and the other OUWB officials were like “all of these moms and dads (trusting us) with their 50 baby chicks.”

“They took a chance on us,” she says. “We did not have full accreditation until right before they graduated. Every administrator, every faculty member, every staff member wanted to do right by those students.”

The library grew with the school.

“You’re constantly talking with students, constantly talking with faculty…OK, we’ve got a new cardiology course, how do we support that?” she says.

Joyce says the “collections are outstanding; I never wanted for an article, journal, or book.”

Being part of something new and growing meant she never had to fight for resources, which Bulgarelli says “speaks to the way the school prioritizes meeting the needs of students and faculty.”

Such resources included the ability to hire a staff that she says has “always been wonderful.”

“Nancy recruited a team of medical librarians that shared her vision,” says McAuley. “The medical library team has been integral in teaching OUWB students across the curriculum and have taken on leadership roles in curriculum management.”

Ready for a change

Bulgarelli says she is “ready for a change.” As of mid-August, she will be a tenured associate professor in Kresge Library and working in a frontline librarian position. She initially will serve as liaison to the Oakland University School of Health Sciences.

She will be going back to her roots for the first time in 35 years — a librarian who doesn’t have to worry about issues related to budgets, staffing, supervision, negotiating with vendors, etc.

“I’m excited,” she says. “There will be no management whatsoever…just working with students and working with faculty.”

In reflection on a career that brought her to this point, Bulgarelli says she “got lucky.”

“I get to work with some really smart people,” she says. “It’s something different every day. I get to learn every single day.”

“Sure, I’ve had some really hard work days, but I love what I do,” she adds. “I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu. 

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine as the original creator and include a link to this article.

Follow OUWB on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.