The Harold B. Lee Library is undergoing construction this summer to better meet students’ needs and continue to provide an environment conducive to academic success.
One of the most significant changes to the library is the relocation and expansion of the Research and Writing Center (RWC). The library is relocating the RWC to a much larger space in the southwest corner of the Learning Commons near the Hub.
The RWC had over 14,000 appointments in 2017, said Research and Writing Center specialist Jessica Green.
“During fall and winter semesters, we have a certain number of people — we call them ‘turnaways’ — people that we basically turn away either because it is too busy, there are not enough tutors on, or there is not enough space. I think the first goal is definitely to be able to meet that need so that we can really serve everyone that comes to our space,” Green said.
The RWC currently has two locations — one in the library for walk-ins and the other in the Jesse Knight Building for scheduled appointments. With its expansion and relocation, the new RWC will combine both locations and will welcome scheduled appointments and walk-ins. Online consulting will continue to be available as well.
The new location will also provide quieter tutoring spaces and a more functional waiting area. Some of the space will have semi-enclosed walls to provide a quiet area for students who desire it. The new waiting space will have comfy chairs and electrical outlets so students can continue to work on their papers as they wait.
HBLL Assistant Facilities Manager and project manager Jeana Haymond said the purpose of making changes to spaces in the library like the RWC is “to make better spaces for the students” and “to help them accomplish their academic goals.”
The Accounting and the Accessibility labs will be demolished and replaced by a hallway running from the Snack Zone straight to the new RWC and the Learning Commons. The Accounting Lab has moved to the first floor of the library, and the Accessibility Lab will be moved down the hall from its current location into room 3430.
The library is also expanding the restrooms on the third floor in the central part of the building, so there will be additional stalls in the men’s and women’s restrooms.
In regard to the changes happening in the library, University Librarian Jennifer Paustenbaugh said, “I hope it makes space more inviting and usable for students. We’re introducing a variety of different types of seating areas.”
One of those different seating areas is on the second floor in the maps area. A new collaborative space is set up and the wood study tables have been pulled out and replaced with new, colorful furniture.
“They’re hoping with the change of furniture there will be a change of feeling in the space and they will feel like they are able to talk and collaborate a little better,” Haymond said.
The library has also rearranged some of the shelving on the north end of the fourth floor to place six study alcoves near the windows, instead of in the middle of the library where there is no natural light.
“That seems to be a request that students want — more natural light. We are going to have six different setups of furniture in these six different areas that are near the light where we shifted the shelving back,” said HBLL Facilities and Construction Manager Justin Stewart.
Each of the six study alcoves will be a little different, including some with soft chairs and some with bar seating.
“The goal is to see how the space is used and what is popular with the students and what’s not. … Hopefully, if it is well-received, we’ll make these changes on other floors and open up more space like that for students,” Stewart said.
Additionally, the library’s air conditioning units will be updated on every floor. The goal is to make the library’s temperature more consistently pleasant.
All of these changes are scheduled to be completed by the beginning of fall semester.