High Hopes for Library Makeover
Photo by Brendaly Vega, Photo Editor
Notice the section of empty stacks and yellow caution tape in Mary Livermore Library?
The library is undertaking an ambitious renovation by building a 2,500 square foot classroom on the main floor to “enhance the student experience,” according to Library Dean Dr. Dennis Swanson. The future classroom will include technology purchased with a $44,000 grant.
It will have two marker board glass walls looking out into the library. Dr. Swanson is open to the classroom being used by students when classes are not taking place. A classroom is not the only improvement Dr. Swanson wants to make.
His intention for the renovation is to create a functional space that welcomes in students. According to Dr. Swanson, there was a national study done that discovered the graduation rates of avid library users. “Students who utilized 20 or more items per semester in the library, nationally, graduated at a 93 percent rate,” he said.
Dr. Swanson completed the same study using UNCP students. He found that students who checked out 20 or more items per semester graduated at an 81 percent rate. Another study Dr. Swanson referenced was about library paint colors.
The new color at the checkout desk was chosen after consulting several different studies specifically about which color would make students feel welcome.
Next to being welcoming, the main way to interest students in the library is to make it as user friendly as possible. One way Dr. Swanson wants to do that is to improve the study spaces already in the library. The upstairs study rooms are ideally going to change from eight to six.
The layout will be more straightforward, and they will also have marker-board glass walls. In addition to adding a classroom on the first floor, a classroom currently upstairs will be turned into an extension of the upstairs common area.
“The problem with the building is we can only sit 290 students at any given moment,” said Dr. Swanson. After knocking down the walls that separate the upstairs classroom from the common space, the library will be able to fit “probably an additional 175-200. It’s remarkable how much space walls take up.”
The idea with this renovation is to create a plan that works with its architecture instead of against it. For instance, the library lights run vertical in the library, while the stacks run horizontal, making it harder to see what is on the shelves.
The shelves in the library fight against the columns that were built before they were put in place. The plan seeks to incorporate the columns in the new design.
“I’m constantly looking for better ways of doing things and how do we make the library a more interesting place? How do we make it more functional for students? The library has not been a functional study space for students.” said Dr. Swanson.
With the new renovation, there will be less room for books however, nothing will go to waste. The physical copies of archives and old periodicals will be recycled, and all can still be found in the library as digital copies.
Any book or movie that the library is getting rid of will be sold in a future sale and anything not sold will be recycled. After weeding through the current selection offered by the library, Dr. Swanson intends to do things differently when it comes to the library’s future collection.
Instead of purchasing a little of everything, there will be more thought put into what the campus or the students need. Dr. Swanson would like to “put in some thought [and] develop a collection.” Safety is another issue being addressed by the renovation plan. The shelving in the library is not installed correctly.
Originally the stacks were straight. However, with the train coming by so often, the stacks have shaken out of their rows.
Over time the incorrect installation could become a danger and something high on the list to be fixed.