A memo from Darren Dawson, dean of the College of Engineering, informed students, staff and faculty that in order to help student retention rates, Fiedler Engineering Library will be remodeled to “enhance service to our students.”
Though library administrators had input in the upcoming changes, the college had the final say.
“It was pretty clear they had a path that they wanted to go down,” Lori Goetsch, dean of libraries, said. “To be honest, it was a bit of a surprise that we were going down that road. But in some ways, for me, it’s kind of the natural evolution of libraries.”
The College of Engineering’s plan is to evolve the space to appeal to incoming students and give them the opportunity to expand their recruitment and retention efforts. The plan is focused on student academic success, rather than library services as it once was. The upcoming changes to the library mark another important chapter in Fiedler’s ongoing history.
“When it opened in the late ’90s, it was one of the first nearly complete electronic libraries in the country,” Goetsch said.
Alice Trussell, director of Fiedler Library, said its history is an important one for other colleges around the country.
“We were a first,” Trussell said. “Other libraries around the country talk to us about opening similar libraries.”
Fiedler Library will undergo many changes, and not just new carpets and a fresh coat of paint. Several resources, including staff, source books and studies, will travel back to the Hale for student use. Reference books, like the ones students check out for calculus and thermodynamics, will no longer be available for check out at the current location.
Trussell and Asha Muthukrishnan, library assistant of Fiedler Library, are some of the staff that will move back to Hale when the engineering library is renovated.
“The library will lose library services,” Trussell said. “Advice for student questions on reference and research items and the materials, too.”
In addition to the professional library services Fiedler Library provides, it employs several student employees who help answer questions and check out books and laptops. Elizabeth Kezar, senior in chemical engineering and student library staff member, said she was upset about the changes and removal of the materials and staff.
“I use a couple of the reference books two or three time a week,” Kezar said. “People ask (the librarians) a lot of questions about books and what references they need.”
The student staff has been encouraged to apply for positions at Hale, as many of the skills are transferable.
“There is more to a library then the books and the resources; it’s the people,” Goetsch said. “We will serve the College of Engineering like every other college that doesn’t have a library of their own.”
The College of Engineering Student Services offices and personnel will move into the remodeled space. Larry Satzler, assistant dean of academics, and Bette Grauer, assistant dean for retention, diversity and inclusion, will be moving into the current offices of the Fiedler Library staff, along with administrative staff.
Additionally, the far west side of the space will be turned into offices for more staff members.
“I have no problem with their offices being there” Caitlyn Vohs, senior in civil engineering and student library staff member, said. “However, I don’t like how they are building new offices and taking up more space.”
The area on the south side and west of the Edwards Conference room will be a glass-enclosed space for the Women in Engineering Program. This enhanced conference room will be open to all engineering students, but designed with the Women of Engineering in mind.
Vohs said she likes how the College of Engineering is promoting the program, but is not too excited about the taking up more space.
“That is nice, but they will probably use it for meetings and other way to promote women in engineering,” Vohs said. “(They) should have (planned) it in the new construction area, instead of a space students already think is too small.”
The new glass conference room is not the only space-filler students are not excited about. The computer space will also be limited as the student PC workstations will be repositioned closer to the eastern side of the space.
“Everything will still be there just condensed, and less room to more around,” Vohs said. “It’s already hard to hear when everyone is in there, so having everyone closer together is going to make it hard to study.”
The space will be condensed, but the same amount of computer and table space will be available to students wishing to work on projects together and separately. The space will also remain friendly and open for collaborative work among students.
Students and library faculty said they are going to miss Fielder Library the way it is, but the new set up fosters an environment for collaboration.
“I’m just glad for a collaborative space for students,” Trussell said. “We can still help the students, just from a different location.”
Students have strong feelings about the changes to the library. Some students do not mind the idea of change, while others are not happy with it.
“I think most definitely College of Engineering should get its own library and keep its library,” Kezar said. “We should be expanding it.”
Students are encouraged to go to Hale with any help or questions just as they used to before Fiedler Library was established.
“I just went to Hale the other day, so it’s not bad,” Ajay Shenold, senior in chemical engineering, said.
Other students do not mind the change in plans, either.
“Usually, I go three or four times a week to Fiedler (Library),” Daniel Scharplaz, junior in mechanical engineering, said. “But, we could use Hale just like everyone else.”
As the space will no longer be carrying out library services from within Fielder Hall, the engineering student organizations have been asked to compete in the renaming of the remodeled space.
The student organizations that have a selected proposed name as one of the top options will each receive a $500 allocation to their student organization accounts. The student organization with the proposed name that receives the strongest recommendation will also receive an additional $500 allocation to their student organization account.