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Downtown Campus Library Makeover Welcomes Back Students

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 18th, 2008

Summer is a good time to tackle that to-do list and make some positive changes. Lose some weight. Get into shape. Renovate your library.

The latter has been the focus of the West Virginia University Libraries this summer. When students and faculty return to campus for the fall semester, they will find multiple enhancements to the Downtown Campus Library.

The makeover will provide users with a flexible environment in which to work and a convenient link to academic assistance while writing a paper or technical support while working on a computer.

“Our main goal is to respond to student needs,” said Myra Lowe, WVU Libraries Associate Dean. “We want to provide them with a place that is conducive for studying, working on assignments with others, creating multi-media projects, and obtaining needed assistance along the way.”

Near the top of the list was answering requests for more group study spaces and more computers.

On the first floor, the former microforms room has become an innovative new study space. A glass wall erected at one end creates a group study room, which will serve as the new home to the Libraries’ Term Paper Clinic. The remainder of the space is furnished by chairs, tables, and white boards, all on wheels, which allow students to reconfigure the area to best meet their needs at the moment.

“We would expect that room will look different every day, depending on who’s using it,” Lowe said.
Another change on the first floor is the addition of six half-round study carrels and computers. Each half-round has six individual study carrels and computers for a total of 36 carrels with computers. Four of the half-rounds were relocated from the lower level, and two are new.

On the lower level, in the former map room, glass walls create two group study rooms, a study alcove, and a main area to be used for group or individual study.

On the other end of the floor, a multi-media center is in the works. Six of the work stations will be equipped with iMacs, four will have media-enhanced iMacs, and two will have multi-media enabled Dell PCs.

Lowe envisions a place where a student can do everything from start to finish for a multi-media project. Students can check out cameras and other necessary equipment for filming and then return to compose their work on a computer.

And help will be only a few feet away. Along with hiring a new librarian to oversee media services, the Libraries are providing their staff with training so they will be able to provide support in terms of answering questions.

“These are the beginning steps of a media-support center,” Lowe said. “Everything is not going to happen immediately. We’ll see what the demand is and what students tell us they need.”

Also in the works are upgrades for the two classrooms on the lower level. Plans call for replacing projectors and improving sound systems in both rooms and upgrading the 30 computers in Room 136.

In addition to the renovations, the Libraries have purchased 20 Dell laptops and 20 MacBooks.
Once the renovations are complete, there will be 16 group study rooms, six rooms with viewing rooms with media equipment, 189 desktop computers, and 100 laptop computers available in the Downtown Campus Library. Laptops will be available for checkout in the document center on the first floor.

Space became available for the physical improvements because the Libraries’ Depository enabled the Libraries to resituate part of their collection. While some materials went to the Depository, microforms moved to the second floor, some maps relocated to Wise Library, and government documents filled the compact shelving recently added on the lower level.

Another key component to the transformation is integrating other academic units from around campus into the library.

This fall, the Libraries launch a collaborative effort with the WVU Writing Center and the Office of Student Affairs. Beginning Aug. 25, peer tutors will be available for drop-in tutoring sessions on the first floor of the Downtown Campus Library on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Student Affairs tutors will be available from 7-11 p.m. and will provide tutoring for chemistry, physics, biology, math, and statistics. Tutors from the WVU Writing Center will be available from 7-9 p.m. and will work with students to improve their writing.

These new offerings will partner well with the existing Term Paper Clinic, which will be offered 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

“The collaboration with Student Affairs and the Writing Center provides added benefits by deepening our understanding of the services offered by each participating unit, helping us learn more about each other’s expertise, and allowing us to work together to promote student success,” said Penny Pugh, Head of Reference for the Downtown Campus Library.

Planning has already begun on an overhaul of the Evansdale Library to occur during the summer of 2009.

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