Library Makes Changes to Improve Students' Experiences

Published Thursday, September 07, 2017
These individualized study areas are new at the McFarland Library
These individualized study areas are new at the McFarland Library

A number of changes have been made in the SMSU McFarland Library for the 2017-18 academic year, and they are all aimed at enhancing the total library experience for the students.

“All the physical changes were made to provide additional individual and group study spaces for students in the library, and, overall, make a more welcoming environment,” said SMSU Librarian Pam Gladis.

 “Several factors influenced our decision to start making physical changes — we started this process prior to the 2016-17 school year,” she added.

There had been little to no changes in the library since it was remodeled in 2005.

“Much of the library revolves around the physical collections, and we wanted to shift the focus toward student-centered spaces. The collections are still valuable and they are still accessible, they just aren’t taking up as much space on the main floor.”

There was also “an 18 percent increase in traffic in 2016-17 from the previous year,” she said. “We know students are coming in and using the library space — we want to make it as appealing and user-friendly as possible using a limited budget,” she said.

The library has done some shuffling of computers, books and rooms. The Reference Collection and Reference Help Desk were moved to the third floor during the 2016-17 school year. There has been some shuffling of computers between the first and third floors, also, to help alleviate computer bottlenecks.

For the first time, there is a study room on the first floor. There is also an entire room on the fifth floor that can be used as a multi-purpose room. It is an open study area with four computers stations. This space will be available for students to use when class or workshops are not being held.

Two more Mac computers were added for students use on first floor behind the printers. In addition, there is also a charging station on the third floor.

The most noticeable change in the library is the new individual study pods that are equipped with a plug-in, a USB port, and a lamp. These pods provide a comfortable study area, and one of the six pods is actually set up for someone who is left-handed. The Academic Technology Committee work group saw the success Winona State had with these pods and decided to implement them at SMSU.

Along with physical changes, there have also been personnel changes. Kate Borowske has been hired to be the Instructional Design Librarian. She will be working closely with both the library and Information Technology staff. The new evening and Saturday supervisor is Olivia Thormodson.

Gladis said the changes have been well received. “The only part of this space transformation that had dollars attached for students is the new furniture. The chairs were paid for by a combination of Student Technology Fee dollars, Information Technology dollars and library dollars,” Gladis explained.

Looking to the future, Gladis hopes to create more technology-enabling spaces. For example, she would like to see some mounted monitors that enable students to project from their laptops to a screen to make group projects run more efficiently.

The library faculty and staff are looking forward to seeing how students utilize the revamped spaces and the new individual seating options now available.