Thanks to Campus Innovation Funds, the library recently purchased new furniture to enhance the learning environment for our students.
Our plan was to install two individual privacy booths [New Window] which would offer students a completely private space for studying, making phone calls, or even conducting video interviews. After a failed RFQ, I reached out to Sandy Maeda for assistance. You might recall that Sandy brought in vendors to display their furniture on campus a while back. One of the products displayed was the Steelcase Brody Worklounge [New Window]. With her expert help, we purchased and installed 5 semi-enclosed private workspaces on the 3rd floor. Each study pod provides ergonomic seating, adjustable work surfaces, integrated power, personal LED task lamp, and a footrest.
The Brody Worklounges are proving popular with our students. They give off a modern feel and are very comfortable. One student commented that the worklounge was like sitting in “first-class!”
The Learning Commons is a very busy place with over 1,100 people entering the space on a typical day. The open floor plan and mobile furniture offer a lot of flexibility for students wanting to meet in small groups. Generally, our library staff doesn’t monitor the noise level unless it becomes excessive, which has occurred during several periods in the past. A regular comment in the Library’s Annual User Surveys [New Window] is that the Learning Commons is too noisy.
Our new radius-style mobile shelving is meant to address several issues, including excessive noise. A common occurrence on the 3rd floor is to hear students talking loudly as they climb the stairs but immediately lower their voices upon seeing the book stacks. Students entering the Learning Commons will see bookshelves on the main floor for the first time. The presence of books serves as a visual cue that they’re now in a library and should behave accordingly.
Another issue concerns the library and its whereabouts. It’s not uncommon for first-year students and visitors to ask the staff at the Circulation Desk, “Where is the library?” The Library is a Learning Commons partner and library staff manage the Learning Commons area, yet it’s not apparent to the uninitiated that there is a library and they’re in it. The bookshelves create a visible link between the upstairs library and the Learning Commons. Moving two smaller collections (Best Sellers and ESL) gives these books increased visibility. According to our daily and annual survey comments, some students do not know we had any recreational books. Now, it’s right in front of them!
It’s not clear from the photo but the new shelves are modular and are on wheels. The present configuration creates a semi-enclosed space on the reverse side where we’ve placed a study table – a secluded space in a sea of activity. In the future, the shelving will be pulled apart and moved as our needs change. Don’t be surprised when library staff changes it up from time to time.
Lastly, we also created a College Resources collection which is displayed on the shelf next to the KIC scanning station (across from the new bookshelves). This non-circulating collection provides information/resources on financial aid, four-year colleges, and majors. We have always had these books but they were “hidden” in our Reference Collection. This is a new initiative to highlight little-known titles from our collections.