KATIE GOODRICH | NEWS EDITOR
The Butler University libraries are rearranging collections and repurposing space to meet students’ needs, such as charging laptops and collaborative study spaces.
The changes made to the libraries has been a two-year process totaling more than $200,000.
“There is a lot going on in the libraries,” said Julie Miller, dean of libraries. “It is an exciting time.”
The library has a leadership group consisting of the dean, the two associate deans, the archivist, the science librarian and the library student liaison.
The leadership group brainstormed areas where there was the greatest likelihood of repurposing space and what the needs were. The members ranked the options and worked with facilities to price the proposals.
Sally Neal, associate dean of libraries, had proposed an idea in 2011 for more student seating, prompting the changes to begin.
Akeira Jennings, the library student liaison, designed several surveys for students to take in order to gather some data about what they wanted to see in the library.
After the projects were chosen, the library had to fund the changes.
“The university has their list of prioritized projects,” Miller said. “The library is not high on the list. We are improving bit by bit.”
Irwin Library underwent more than $133,000 of changes, while the Ruth Lilly Science Library’s alterations added up to more than $68,000.
The funding for the projects came from a variety of sources, including university capital requests, which must be applied for, and the library’s own budget.
Most of the library’s budget for collections is spent on electronic information, such as e-books, Miller said. Moving those resources online makes it easier for students, staff and faculty to access.
Senior Morgan Johnson said she thinks electronic resources make research easier.
“No one comes to library to get books anymore,” she said. “So it is nice to have it all online.”
Miller said the library administration goes through the physical collections and identifying the redundant resources that are already online and irrelevant resources that are no longer used in curriculums.
“We will have a standards-based for reducing the footprint of our physical collection in a way that gets us down to the really vital resources that students need and then repurposing those spaces as we go.”
Repurposing the space means reallocating the space for students to study.
The student surveys influenced the choice of furniture and the kind of study spaces used.
“We know that we have fewer seats in Irwin Library and the Science Library than we did 50 years ago, and we have more students,” Miller said. “One of the first things we need is more soft space for students to use. We need both quiet study space for individual study and collaborative spaces where students can work together.”
The survey indicated students wanted both individual and collaborative study spaces.
The science library added more study carrels and booths, and Irwin added two new media work stations and increased the amount of seating all over the library.
Senior Shannon Hiday began working at the library two years ago and witnessed the creation of the new study spaces, including the collaborative spaces.
“Our new workspaces have brought a more welcoming and open environment for people to study as groups,” she said. “There seems to be more students who come in to use the collaborative work spaces, since they have been so well publicized by us.”
Johnson said she visits the library at least twice a week. She utilizes the new collaborative study spaces about once a month.
“They’re nice because we’re allowed to talk and not feel guilty about talking in the library,” she said.
A charging bar where students can charge their laptops while they work is one of the ways the space has been repurposed.
Jennings said charging laptops was a large student concern.
Hiday said she has seen many students use the charge bar.
“It’s nice to be able to put your laptop in your bag and go and not worry about bringing your charger,” she said.
The charge bar is located in some of the repurposed space.
Another source of this space was the combination of the circulation and information commons desks in Irwin’s main floor atrium.
This desk is now entirely student-staffed.
Miller said the combination simplifies the process of researching and checking out books, since people are no longer running between two desks.
Hiday said the library employees had to learn new programs and tasks in order to adapt to the new responsibilities.
“Since we are now a one point entry system, students have come to the desk more to use us as resources,” she said. “Instead of them going between Information Commons and circulation desk.”
Each change stemmed from thinking about what would benefit students the most, Miller said. More changes are on the horizon for the library.
“There is more demand than we can possibly meet,” she said.
Jennings said the feedback from the changes has been positive.
“The suggestions have been followed through,” she said. “And it is apparent that the changes are the ones that administration and librarians tried to implement on behalf of the students.”
She said she wants more students to take the surveys, so the library can meet their needs.
“It’s their library,” Jennings said. “Students should feel some type of ownership toward the library.”
The process for the changes to enacted took time, but she said the librarians and administration worked hard over the summer.
“They were reorganizing, planning how to best accommodate a change in the library and campus,” Jennings said. “Campus is definitely evolving. That is apparent. Having a library that is evolving as well is imperative. I’m glad the library and its administration is so apt to change.”