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Moon Library Outlines Plans to Meet Student Needs

Creating flexible spaces, room for group meetings addressed

Matthew Smith, director of College libraries, provided an update on plans for the library during the recent Friends of Moon Library meeting. Following is the presentation he gave to the group.

The F. Franklin Moon Library is the center of campus and its unofficial living room. Over the last five years the library has welcomed an average of 187,882 guests each year. The library space is attractive and functional but not without need for updates. We provide the warmth of natural wood furniture, leather and upholstered soft seating, and even fun, memory foam "bean bag" chairs. Save for the "bean bag" chairs, our current configuration is monolithic and hard to adapt by the user. Regardless, during peak hours, roughly between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., our seats are full.

From a library design perspective, the seating in our main reading area is too dense. We can't readily achieve the minimum space around each table, all the workspaces and our service point because of the amount of seating we have. Probably at least partly related to the seating density, we receive frequent requests from students for more group space and more quiet study space. In a free-span structure it is difficult to create discrete areas without significant renovation, which we don't have funds for. Despite this barrier we still sought out a way to meet our students' needs.

The culmination of a multi-year collection management project allowed for us to create an approximately 800-square-foot area, behind the front facade of book stacks, in the southwest corner of the library. Engaging with students, our colleague Rex Giardine (associate facilities program coordinator), and an interior design firm, we are furnishing an area with moveable furnishings to accommodate groups of varying sizes. This new area is anticipated to house a family of nesting tables, (four height-adjustable tables), moveable whiteboards and a wall-mounted writing surface. Not only will this create a new type of space in the library, and we believe on campus, it will also reduce density in our main seating area.

In parallel to this we are renovating the former Academic Success Center, since relocated, into a Library Services Suite where librarians, library clerks and an academic support person will have new office and work spaces. This will move four library staff out of the Unsworth Quiet Study Room and allow for us to meet another student request - additional quiet seating. This also offers an opportunity for us to offer a reservable room for students to secure private space for interviews or other confidential needs. We anticipate this will double our quiet-study seating capacity without diminishing the quality of the space and also decrease density in our main seating areas. The library has been working closely with the Undergraduate Student Association on this, incorporating the group's input and receiving its endorsement.

These near-term, low-dollar, high-impact projects allow for us to prepare for more major renovations bringing appropriate student-facing services into the library to support student performance and retention. Among those major renovations we hope to achieve are the following:

  • Food service or cafe, which is a student service, in the library
  • A welcoming and inviting entryway that provides intermediary space for waiting and informal meeting and might incorporate exhibition space
  • A concentration of student-facing services in the building
  • An ADA entrance on the lower level
  • Gender-neutral and accessible restrooms
  • 24/7 access to a portion of the building