May/June 2007: Issue 135
Responding to Student Needs:
Creating a Better Study Environment
For many years, library staff have been aware of the need for more student study space and longer hours of accessibility, and of problems with noise and temperature control (or the lack thereof) in the Library, especially on the first floor. The increases in the number of students, and the increased use by students and faculty of the Library Learning Resource Center, the Teaching Research Center, the Historical Research Center, the Access Grid and other important components of the Library, have made space needs even more critical. During the past several years, the Library reversed the growth of the print collections by providing online access only to most journals, which stopped the encroachment of stacks into study space, and by replacing print indices with online databases. Various renovation plans were developed, but funding was not available.
Fortunately, the College of Medicine administration decided recently to provide funding for Phase I of a library renovation project. The project began several months ago, and the Library is pleased to announce that this phase is now complete. The Quiet Room was converted to the Recovery Room Lounge, which includes vending machines and new furniture. The freestanding counter-high shelving on the first floor which formerly contained printed indexes was removed to make a new study space. Other improvements include the addition of electrical outlets for laptops, 98 new chairs and 18 new tables of various shapes and sizes, and several leather sofas and chairs. Also during the past year, chairs at all computer workstations were replaced using funding provided by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs office.
Phase II of the renovation project, which is just getting underway, will address noise, temperature and access issues on the first floor. The center point of Phase II is a glass wall that will separate the noisy front entrance area of the Library from the new study area in the North half of the 1st floor where most computers and the new furniture are located. The glass wall will mimic the wall at the entrance of the Library and will have ADA compliant doors for entry into the study area. The wall should help control noise and provide better temperature control.
The glass wall will also enable the Library to provide access for students to the study area in the North half of the first floor when the Library is closed. Students will be able to access the area through the emergency door at the North end of the first floor with a card swipe reader. Only valid UAMS id cards will work with the card swipe which opens the door. There will be no library staff or reference and circulation services available when the Library is closed, and access to the rest of the Library, including the print collections on 2nd and 3rd floors, will not be available, but the vending machine room will be accessible. The estimated completion date for Phase II is August 15th.
Funding for the glass wall was provided by the Chancellor and the College of Medicine. The Library is funding the relocation of Reference offices to the west side of the first floor and the conversion of the vacated Reference office space into a quiet study room.
Plans for Phase III of the renovation include moving Administration and Systems staff offices to another floor to provide more study space and to further eliminate noise on the 1st floor. Funding has not yet been identified for this phase.
We are very happy to be able to provide improved study space and to provide access to study space for students when the Library is closed. We appreciate the generosity of the College of Medicine and the Chancellor's office in making the renovation possible.
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