Information Update - Spring 2012

Renovations in the Works for Second Floor Reference Area

Each time the Weinberg Library conducts a survey, whether by informal means or by the nationally recognized LibQual instrument, additional group study rooms are always at the top of the most requested improvement list. As more and more professors assign projects that require collaboration, the Library struggles to keep up with the requisite equipment and environments to meet the students' needs. On the eve of the Weinberg Library's 20th anniversary, a small ad hoc committee has been formed to oversee a redesign of the second floor of the building as a way to address the growing desire for more group study areas and utilize space that houses materials that have seen decreased usage due to advances in technology – print indexes, abstracts and reference books. Comprised of reference librarians and administrative staff, this group has been meeting regularly to determine how to best retrofit the second floor for optimal use. Students who use this floor on a regular basis seem to like the excellent lighting, proximity to computers and printers, and the moderate presence of noise that emanates from the Reference Desk transactions. Students choosing to sit at the tables near the desk can and do engage in conversation while studying or working on group projects. Nearly all of these tables are filled during fall and spring semesters whenever the library is open. Comfortable couches, single carrels, and some moveable tables and chairs complete the furniture arrangements in the reference area on the second floor.
The first step in planning for the design began last summer when the reference librarians identified books in each subject area in the reference stacks that could be moved to circulation, replaced by newer editions, or recycled. This process has been progressing throughout the fall and intersession semesters. Consultation with the academic departments will be conducted before the final decision to move the volumes will be made. Our next step was to examine the microfilm area – what equipment is still functioning to full capacity, what cabinets can be condensed, and how we can make that area into additional group study rooms. Help from both the Acquisitions and Serials Departments has been invaluable in determining how much space will ultimately be available for our renovations. As word of the redesign has spread throughout the library, additional suggestions for improvement have been made. The interlibrary loan staff asked if the remaining bound journals could be moved to the second floor, thus housing all formats of serials (current, microfilm, and bound) in one location. This idea was studied and may be implemented, thus freeing up additional study space in the new 24-hour room on the first floor.
The committee is striving to make the changes both cost effective and flexible. Trends in information access make predicting how patrons will utilize both equipment and space difficult to foresee within the next six months, let alone trying to imagine how the next 10 years will evolve. Therefore, flexibility is key in light of the considerable costs of recarpeting, constructing new floor- to- ceiling walls, and changing lighting and HVAC to accommodate major renovation projects.
With the assistance of equipment and furniture vendors, the committee has made a wish list of various moveable partitions and versatile furnishings which should result in an attractive, cost-efficient, and welcoming group study areas on the second floor. Once the condensation of microfilm equipment, holdings, and reference materials has been completed, the actual implementation of the plan will begin. Stay tuned for these improvements as the year progresses.
Betsey Moylan