I work in a public academic library where we serve a student population of about 6,000. Our institution is located in a small town in upstate New York, about 3 hours from New York City. The biggest challenge that we are currently facing is an upcoming renovation of the entire building. This is exciting. We are bringing our library into the 21st century. But this doesn’t come without some growing pains.
Our building is five stories, with Information Technology housed on one of the floors. With the renovation, we will be bringing three additional service centers into the building – the Writing Center, the Student Disability Center and the Faculty Excellence Center. These are all wonderful resources to have in the library for patrons to access, but the issue we face is we simply cannot increase the square footage of the building. Thus, we need to find a place for these new services, our own library services as well as the books we house, all the while being aware of creating a library that is a welcoming environment for all who wish to use the building to study or enjoy the events we host.
While the groundbreaking for the renovation will not begin until 2017, we have already begun preparations for the upcoming changes. Weeding, as in most libraries, is our greatest endeavor this summer. We have a large collection of books, including 165,000 volumes that have never circulated. The reference collection, located on the first floor, has been significantly decreased, with titles either going to the stacks or being deaccessioned. This has allowed us to remove a large portion of shelving and make this area have the feel of a learning commons: where soft seating, group tables and individual computer stations will dominate when the students return in the fall. With the removal of the reference stacks, we are also enjoying the increased natural light from the windows that spill into the first floor, giving it a warmer feel.
Within the stacks, weeding is occurring as well. We have a significant amount of monographs to review, with both librarians and faculty involved in the process. Based on the discipline, some books are easier to discard than others (a book on neuroscience written 50 years ago would be useful for historical purposes, perhaps, but may not be what a student needs for an academic paper in 2016 – whereas an art history book can usually stand the test of time). Since our library has never followed a weeding schedule, and thus we have too many books in our stacks, this will be one of the most challenging tasks ahead of us.
Once construction begins, the library will stay open. Staff will be moved to different locations throughout the process and access to the books may be difficult at times, but we will make it work. The end result will be an amazing, revitalized library, where students, faculty, the campus and surrounding community can come and take advantage of the new services we provide and the remodeled space we worked tirelessly to create for them. We believe it will be a great success and are looking forward to sharing what we were, as well as what we will become for our patrons.
–Molly Brown, ILN Content Officer