Editorial: Library Renovations

Posted by The Editorial Board

Over the summer, the Lucy Scribner Library received a multi-million dollar renovation. The revamp addressed a lot of the issues students had been concerned with in the past, including effective use of space and resources. Overall, the renovations have been greeted with enthusiasm, but with one oversight.

Some of the immediately notable additions to the library include: 12 new individual study rooms and 13 new group study rooms; new computers, both Mac and PC; new furniture, including some desks with outlets for easy laptop charging; 250 more seats; a media viewing room; and a new electronic system for reserving study space.

It would be difficult to argue that any of these renovations are not of the utmost practicality and value, particularly the new study room reservation system. In the past, getting a study room was difficult for students, especially during midterms and finals. While the entire extent of its usefulness will not be fully realized until the system endures the first midterm rush, it is safe to say that the electronic booking procedure is a much more practical and fair system of reserving space than the old first-come-first-serve method, which was often abused. Students can no longer leave their belongings in a room and come back later after hours of no use. With designated time slots, students will be forced to use their study time more effectively thus insuring that more people will be able to take advantage of the space.

The renovations have also made the library more useful to professors. Two new electronic classrooms with innovative teaching tools and technology are open, allowing faculty members a chance to experiment with teaching methods, and the new media room will serve as a great place to screen films for class. The fact that clubs and individual students may also use these facilities only adds to their benefit.

The spacing of the library makes librarians more visible therefore more accessible, and the relocation of IT to the basement makes technical support that much easier for students to obtain. The addition of motion-sensor lights and a water refilling station also help move the college even further in its green-friendly initiative.

Improved aesthetics of the library, along with the addition of the Hillside Apartments, ought to create more interest in the school among prospective students. However, with all of the consolidation and rearrangement of stacks one may not have noticed a certain set of resources that is now missing.

A complaint students have voiced concerns the relocation of microfilms and year-or-more-old periodicals to the Hoge building next to Harder Hall. The new system for acquiring these materials treats them almost identically to materials accessed through the interlibrary loan system, which makes little sense when one considers the implications.
Students can no longer look through shelves of these documents and must instead request photocopies of specific pages from them. This change adds a few steps that only complicate the loaning process. It also does not coincide with the eco-friendly mantra that the school has embraced in recent years. Nor does the idea of limiting academic materials fit in with the high regard for academia that our school embraces as an elite learning institution. The move to Hoge might make sense if these materials were being treated like special collections, in that a student would need to make a reservation in order to use them, but why limit access to materials that were already fully available in the first place?

While the improved aesthetics of the library increase its appeal to students, faculty and prospective students, functionality should come first. What is the quintessential point of a library but to house academic materials? Though the renovations made to the library are all undeniable improvements, perhaps more thought should have been given with regards to the periodicals.

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