Published: September 11, 2015
Students can now head up to the second floor of the Weinberg Memorial Library anytime. The inclusion of the second floor as a 24-hour study space was prompted by student demand more than a year and a half ago.
After the initial flood of requests, some by student government, Charles Kratz, dean of libraries formed a task force made up of university librarians to develop the idea.
Donna Witek, public services librarian, said, “It’s important for us in the library because we aim to be responsive to student needs.”
The main issues considered involved staffing requirements, student safety and the safekeeping of university materials among others.
To address the safety concerns, the task force first approached Dave Wilson, university architect, to discuss the physical changes that would have to be made to allow safety for students and university property.
Wilson designed enclosures for the reference desk on the second floor and areas to store reference material that could not be touched overnight. It was also necessary to install more cameras throughout the second floor.
“We are relying on student responsibility and the honor system,” Witek said.
Witek said most feedback of the Reilly Learning Commons, when it was first created last year, was positive, however, complaints included the lack of seating that was cut back on when the study rooms were created and the large computer monitors were spread out.
“(Now) there’s more space, so it’s quieter. The other (rooms) get crowded,” Tim Sayers, junior, said.
The study rooms were requested by students and utilized heavily in the past year; however, it resulted in the cutback of seating and led to a student demand for an alternative.
Some of the remodeling of the second floor, in response, included the redesign of the study areas for independent quiet study. There used to be four group-study rooms, now there are two group-study rooms and two independent study rooms.
“Part of our promise to what we do is to make the library a space that students feel is theirs,” Witek said.
Most of the major costs involved in the project included remodeling of the study rooms, installation of more cameras, building of enclosures and purchases of pricey reference materials to be locked at night.
Because the other floors of the library are still closed, after hours, staff has to disable elevator use to floors second after closing each night before they leave. The librarians must also lock all doors in the stairwell by the Reilly Learning Commons except for the first and second floor exits. As well, they must lock all doors in the other stairwell and secure the reference desk and copies of reference books.
These three spaces are now open 24/7, however, all services, including help from librarians, is closed.
Students now have access to all the reference materials on the second floor of the library, as well as a number of computers and seating–which was the main request from students.
“We want to make sure students have access to the core curriculum for work,” Witek said.
“The improvements should have been made earlier,” Alexandra Mueller, junior, said. “You have more access to the books and materials you need for classes.”
In the library’s newsletter, Betsey Moylan, reference director and chair of the library faculty, wrote that the University Police met with the library maintenance staff to better prepare themselves for any safety concerns that may arise.
Witek said that she has seen no problems so far and there has not been any student feedback positive or negative, however, she said she has seen the use.
“I’ve observed that it is now being taken advantage of, which is what I want,” Witek said.
In the newsletter, Moylan also wrote that the Task Force who created the expansion will meet throughout the school year to evaluate how the endeavor is going and to identify any improvements or modifications that must be made.
The library continues to close at it’s normal time (10 p.m. to the public, with the staff leaving at 11:30 p.m.) however, now students can access the Pro Deo Room, the Reilly Learning Commons and the second floor of the library 24 hours a day with their Royal Card.