Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UMass Amherst Libraries Redesign Science and Engineering Library


     The UMass Amherst Libraries have renovated the Science and Engineering Library (SEL) to accommodate more students and optimize the available space.  Construction was completed for the spring 2012 semester, and the area is now open for student use.   The renovated space holds eight new group study rooms, each with a whiteboard and computer, as well as 46 new individual computer stations.  
On the third floor, power outlets were added to the study tables.  The space is constantly busy, and students are utilizing both the individual desks and the new study rooms.
On the busiest day in 2011, 1,273 people visited SEL, and over the course of the year Library staff answered 8,461 questions at the service desks.  The Library was challenged to accommodate this level of traffic before the renovations.
Although the renovated space came as a surprise to many, there was a great response when students found out about it.  “I noticed there was a sign saying it was closed during the construction phase, and when I came back a few days later, it was open,” said Civil Engineering major, Greg Olson, 2014.  “It is a good alternative to the crowded library, and it is close to all my classes so it is easy to come in between.  I usually come at least once a day.  There is easy access to computers, and the white boards are really helpful for group study sessions.  It’s awesome.”
Megan Colwell and Kristen Richard, both Kinesiology majors in the class of 2013 said, “Before we were in the small two-person rooms upstairs and they were freezing. This is so much better, we come every day.”
“More than anything else, students were asking for more computers,” says Maxine Schmidt, head of the Science and Engineering Library.  “And every semester, groups worked on projects huddled around laptops on low tables on the main floor, talking in whispers so they wouldn’t disturb others.  The students on the third floor in the quiet areas had no outlets for their laptops.  This renovation took care of all of those issues.  In phase two of our renovation, which we hope to have ready by fall, we will redo the lobby and entry area.”
The UMass Amherst Libraries include the Science and Engineering Library (SEL) in Lederle Lowrise; the Image Collection Library in Bartlett Hall; the Music Reserve Lab in the Fine Arts Center; and the W.E.B. Du Bois Library and Learning Commons, located at the heart of the UMass Amherst campus.
For more information, contact Maxine Schmidt (mschmidt@library.umass.edu, 413-545-6739).  

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