Library implements renovations following student feedback, critiques

Students work in Milne Library in an area that previously housed library administrators. The library will continue similar renovations throughout the calendar year in order to meet students’ desires for increased study space. (Annalee Bannison/Photo Editor)

Milne Library is undergoing structural renovations to provide increased study spaces for students in response to student complaints. 

Work to make spatial adjustments began over the winter break and will continue into this semester, according to Library Director Ben Rawlins. Rawlins explained that Milne consistently received feedback from students about the limited number of spaces to study and work in groups.

“We’d routinely get comment cards and suggestions from students that are left out around the library,” Rawlins said. “A lot of those [would] say ‘please expand student study space,’ so that’s the biggest reason for the renovations. We know that this building is really busy and students want to be here, so we’re looking overall at the space usage in the building to see ways that we can add additional seats.” 

Currently, the Information and Delivery Services department and administration offices have been moved to the second floor, and staff will continue to move into empty rooms that were previously not being used. Other meeting rooms will be taken offline and converted into office space over the upcoming summer, according to Rawlins.

The ongoing renovation process has resulted in limited work interruptions, including in the IDS department, according to Digital Resources and Systems Librarian Bill Jones. 

“The delay in getting the compact shelving affected the access services department because they had to put course reserves and some IDS materials on book carts instead of on shelves,” Jones said. “That may have caused a little bit of inconvenience, but it was only for a short period of time.”

This delay in installing compact shelving and other fixtures was a result of vendors delivering necessary materials to build these shelves late, according to Jones. 

“We typically try to use all the time that we have available so even winter break we tried to use that time when the students aren’t here for renovations,” Jones said “Unfortunately, there were some complications . . . so that created a delay.”  

Based on the response and the success of these renovations, Milne is planning to further restructure the internal layout of the library over the coming year, Rawlins said. 

“We’re going to continue to look at the space, so over the course of the next few years … we do have a really student-centered plan,” Rawlins said. “We know that that’s going to be a little bit of a process, but I can assure you that our end goal is to ensure that the space that we have meets the needs of our student population.” 

The renovations have been met with generally positive reactions from students who have utilized the new space.  

“I like the renovations. I like that they’re adding more study space because the reason I don’t study in there is because I can never find a seat,” sociology major sophomore Alexandra Marino said. “They really seem to listen to complaints about not having enough study space.”

Pre-business administration major freshman Joshua Schenker similarly felt that the restructured library environment would be conducive for his work habits. 

“It’s a great idea,” Schenker said. “It should really expand a student’s ability to learn.” 

The library will continue to look into further options for increasing space for student to use.

“I’ve seen a lot of different changes and this is just really great because a lot of times, especially during finals, students are looking for spaces to study and this just opens up a lot more space,” Jones said. “I want to see students collaborating more on projects and just more bodies in the library using our resources.”