Libraries have entered a new age. They have morphed from book storage to collaborative workspaces for students.
The campus library staff doesn’t intend to be stuck in the past. Through innovations, the library is striving to meet the demands of students. The current renovations on the fifth floor are just one example of progress.
“The use of libraries has changed,” Thomas Cetwinski, Director of Planning and Accountability for the USF Library, said. “It was originally just a warehouse for books. Now, however, it acts as more of a social aspect. The library has become a destination point for students.”
Cetwinski also said the purpose of the renovations is to create a common area that is safe, secure and responds to the needs of students’ study habits.
The renovations began in February and the projected completion date for construction is Aug. 18. This results in the space becoming available for students beginning fall 2017.
The estimated cost of the endeavor is upward of $4 million. The funds are drawn from Collective Investment Trust and central funds.
The cost includes construction work and new furniture.
“With the new housing, the fence, and now this, it seems like the university is spending a lot of money,” Adam Bakst, sophomore majoring in mass communications, said.
Cetwinski said cost efficiency is a focal point for the project. Energy-efficient products that result in lower energy costs are being installed. These products include new ductwork, air systems and lighting that automatically balances with the natural light from the windows.
Additionally, environmentally conscious efforts are being utilized with the recycling of original carpeting, ceiling tiles and metals.
The furniture is designed for individual study and will have electrical outlets incorporated into each workstation since a lack of power is a concern students express, according to Cetwinski. There will be enough seating for 400 persons in the workspace.
“These new additions will be beneficial because outlets are usually what students struggle to find the most, especially during busy times like midterms and finals,” Lauren George, a senior majoring in public health, said. “I also think the new furniture will update the less modern floors of the library.”
Three of the possible new furniture designs were available for student viewing during spring 2017. Students voted for the model they preferred and the one with the most votes is being installed.
There will also be two reading rooms, one for graduate students and one for undergraduate students.
Though the majority of the floor will be focused on individual study, there will be eight rooms designated for group study. These rooms will have soundproof walls and glass doors to prevent groups from distracting those studying individually on the rest of the floor.
Libraries are also changing the way print materials are stored to more effectively use available space.
Compact shelving is one way print storage is being redesigned. It consists of shelves on tracks that are stacked closely together and move with the turn of a crank to create walkways. This method allows for more print to be stored in a specific space. These shelves are currently used in the library basement.
“All libraries are looking for ways to use their space more effectively, as a result, compact shelving is becoming more and more common,” Cetwinski said.
Staff are already considering ways to further improve the student experience, according to Cetwinski.