The library of tomorrow: Hale prepares for first floor renovations

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Technology and the way that students use it to study is evolving, which means that research locations like Hale Library must evolve as well. Hale is fundraising for a new renovation, for which a start date has not been set.

As Hale prepares for the first floor renovation, Roberta Johnson, project manager for the renovation and senior director for administrative and IT services, said the project focuses on improving the student experience.

These updates include:

  • Opening entrance to first floor
  • Reservable collaboration rooms for students to work on projects, use Skype, etc.
  • An easier access point to Einstein Bros. Bagels from the inside of the library
  • Turning the 24-hour study area into a public meeting room, similar to the Hemisphere Room, where students can study when not in use
  • A library instruction classroom to fit 60-80 people, also available for student use
  • An innovation center for 3D printing, virtual reality, video production, green screen studios, artificial intelligence and plasma screen TVs

Also, the children of the Hale family have donated $500,000 to support the project. To commemorate the donation, a cafe in the renovated space will be named in their honor.

Johnson said roughly 97 percent of the library’s budget now goes toward electronic materials instead of print materials. Print materials are still available, but they are stored off site.

“[Students] are now doing work differently than even 10 years ago,” Johnson said. “[Hale] was built in an era where that wasn’t even thought of as being a need.”

Johnson said library staff have always mediated between students and information. And as ways to access information evolve, so does the library.

“Sometimes I don’t think people understand why it’s still so important for [librarians] to be involved in understanding what that knowledge is, because in addition to being very powerful, it’s also getting more and more difficult to determine whether it has any validity,” Johnson said. “And I think librarians have a real important place in all of that.”

The new electronics have not yet reached Hale’s floor, but there are librarians that can help students access and utilize modern technology.

Rachel Miles, digital scholarship librarian at Hale Library, does copyright consultations for students and faculty, as well as helping them publish scholarly journals through New Prairie Press.

“I can also help with assessing the impact of their research,” Miles said. “I have a specific little niche expertise in altmetrics, that basically looks at what kind of online attention [someone’s] research is getting.”

Altmetrics, Miles said, can monitor social media, taking note of every mention on Twitter, Facebook and news outlets, as well as public policy.

Miles estimated that she helps roughly 5 to 7 percent of graduate students who are usually looking into starting or publishing research, as well as undergraduates and faculty.

“We help faculty as much as we help grad students, because faculty often don’t know a lot of these copyright and research assessment issues either,” Miles said.

Hale also houses the Information Technology Services, which allows students to check out equipment including digital cameras, tripods, laptops and audio recorders.

Johnson said in adding to the library, she wants students to have to opportunity to do interesting and creative things with their assignments and research.

“I think really lends [itself] to what the library of today really does,” Johnson said.

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