Newman Library will be undergoing major renovations over the next three to four years. Last year, Brian Mathews was hired as the associate dean for Learning and Outreach to begin the project and get the library the information they needed to serve students with the renovation.
“Something that libraries have been facing globally is an attempt to convert a place that used to be just for stacks into a place for people," Mathews said. "It’s a transformation — there’s lighting, walkways, noise and echoes that you have worry about. That’s why we are getting this student feedback and hiring an architect to make sure we are shaping this up well.”
The library did interviews with students over the past several months, but it also observed students in their own study environment. And it didn’t just do so in the library — the staff met students where they are, at the Duck Pond, in the GLC, in academic buildings and beyond. They labeled this project "discovery teams."
“A lot of this research started last fall, and these discovery teams happened in the spring," Mathews said. "In the summer we panned, and now this fall we are gathering some more search to understand what we want to do with space.”
The beginnings of a three-to-four year project, renovations will start on the second floor and expand from there. The focus is mainly on group collaboration, currently known as "group study floors" in the library. Over the years, the entire library will be renovated based on different concepts to provide a multitude and variety of study spaces for students.
The models include areas named after "neighborhoods" and "villages." The marketplace model, in a few years time, will be home to the Writing Center, CommLab, IT Support, Language Center and GIS and special data.
“This past summer we already replaced some things and introduced some more new, mobile furniture," Mathews said. "In summer 2013, we are hoping to make more of a dent contingent upon budget, and bring even some more new additions.”
At yesterday’s discovery team meetings, the library showed off the teams, which evaluated five different areas: individual work, group collaboration, media production, knowledge/content creation, and technology.
"With these teams, we really wanted to see what happens in our spaces after hours," Mathews said. "Push us outside of our domain, to see how students attack their assignments and gain their scholarship.”
The digital poster session’s objective was to spend time around campus and in libraries discovering, through observations and conversations, how students approach their academic work. The teams consisted of various individuals from across the library’s staff, and each group completed linear reports.
"We are building an attempt to say that not only did we renovate, but we want to package this into questions that we could use to even further assess the way students use our spaces,” Mathews said.