Written by Tom Urell, com­mu­ni­ca­tions officer, Uni­ver­sity Libraries

Sev­eral dozen stu­dents and uni­ver­sity offi­cials dis­cussed Snell Library’s future at a town-​​hall meeting last week. Topics ranged from the library’s com­mit­ment to sus­tain­ability to tech­nology upgrades and the avail­ability of study space.

The stu­dents in atten­dance included rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion and the Grad­uate Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment. The uni­ver­sity offi­cials included Will Wakeling, dean of Uni­ver­sity Libraries; Rehan Khan, vice pres­i­dent of infor­ma­tion ser­vices and chief infor­ma­tion officer; and Jim Cahill, facil­i­ties’ asso­ciate vice pres­i­dent for plan­ning, design, and con­struc­tion. Kristina Lopez, the SGA vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, mod­er­ated the event.

The town-​​hall meeting con­tinued the ongoing dia­logue between library offi­cials and stu­dents, many of whom have shared their thoughts on the changes to the library envi­ron­ment on white­boards and through sur­veys and social media. The biggest change to the library is the new Dig­ital Media Com­mons, which opened in Sep­tember on Snell Library’s second floor.

One of the pri­mary topics high­lighted by stu­dents at the meeting was the avail­ability of study space. Stu­dents noted that study areas get crowded quickly in the busiest times of the aca­d­emic year, making it dif­fi­cult for everyone to find a quiet place to work. In response, Wakeling noted that this issue would in part be alle­vi­ated over the long term by the changing nature of library col­lec­tions. More print mate­rial will be made avail­able online, he said, freeing up library offi­cials to con­vert space cur­rently used to store books into study areas.

Stu­dents also inquired about the library’s com­mit­ment to sus­tain­ability. Cahill noted the chal­lenge of retro­fitting existing campus build­ings, but said the uni­ver­sity is ded­i­cated to achieving and going beyond the LEED stan­dards in new con­struc­tion. Khan added that the library has taken advan­tage of green-​​computing stan­dards in existing data cen­ters, deployed vir­tual servers, and rec­om­mended the use of energy-​​efficient com­puting devices, dig­ital con­tent, automa­tion, and even double-​​sided printing. Wakeling also described the library’s suc­cessful ini­tia­tive to replace pho­to­copiers with document-​​scanning devices.

In response to a ques­tion about upgrades to class­room tech­nology, Khan pointed to the class­room ren­o­va­tions com­mittee and the ongoing efforts to refur­bish class­rooms, adding that dozens of class­rooms are updated annu­ally during semester breaks. The com­mittee, com­prised of fac­ulty, stu­dents, and admin­is­tra­tors, eval­u­ates both phys­ical infra­struc­ture and tech­nology improve­ments, Khan said.