University Library News
Georgia State University

Library as Place

This is the third in a series of posts on themes in the Fall 2022 faculty survey.

In our survey of faculty, we were very pleased to see many comments about the importance of the library as place.  The University Library seeks to meet a variety of student and faculty needs, which can be a balancing act during peak hours of use. Faculty commented on the library’s role as “a place to study,” a “meeting space for students,” and a space for faculty members to meet with students. Several discussed the importance of the library as a quiet space, and a few were frustrated by the challenge of finding quiet areas in a very busy library. Respondents valued amenities, like the coffee shop and the CURVE. Others highlighted activities that bring our community together, including “lectures, discussions, classrooms, [and] reading areas.”

We wanted to respond to a few specific comments.

“Faculty need space in the library.” What additional spaces? “A quiet meeting space for grad students.”

We completely agree! There are options now, and we are planning for other options in the future. If you are looking for a quiet space, we suggest reserving a group study room or, on the downtown campus, using the 5th floor downtown, the 4th floor at Clarkston, or the 1st floor at Dunwoody which are designated as our quiet floors. We also have a larger meeting room available on the 3rd floor of Library North, N318. The new Study Commons will have several larger, bookable spaces. We are also considering a space for faculty and/or graduate students in our future renovation plans. Comments suggested that carrels, a relaxed atmosphere, and faculty work/meeting/research spaces are valued. If you have suggestions for what spaces and features you would use, drop us a line.

A couple of comments also expressed concerns about non-research activities taking place in the library (e.g., “eating lunch and playing video games”). A definite lack of social spaces on campus pushes many social activities into the library. However, research libraries today understand that a variety of activities facilitate learning and that prohibiting a long list of activities (which might include eating or gaming) is not an effective use of time and may actually get in the way of learning. As such, our conduct policy asks users to maintain an “environment conducive to research and learning and free of disruptive activity.” Overall, our students do a pretty good job of self-policing. When things get out of hand, our staff respond promptly to noise complaints.

Operating Hours – “Open on Saturday mornings” “Please expand your hours on weekends to accommodate working faculty and students” “The library should be open 24/7 during midterms and finals”

We closely track usage patterns and do adjust hours as we are able. For example, we noticed higher head counts on Friday evenings on the downtown campus and extended our closing time from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. However, gate counts on Saturdays have not indicated a need for additional hours. Additional hours would require additional staffing, which we cannot afford at this time. Also, we do not see the demand for overnight hours, even during peak times. While we recognize that students have very complex lives and their study times reflect that, we are concerned that 24/7 hours could reduce student outcomes by encouraging counter-productive sleep habits. When we open the Study Commons this fall, we will revisit all hours on the downtown campus. The Commons will allow us to experiment with some extended hours in that space while closing the stacks, currently open until 2 a.m., earlier.

“I am so disappointed that the Classroom renovations REMOVED the computers. This has really placed an economic burden on students to have their own laptops for classroom meetings in the library.”

Last year we renovated Classroom 1 in Library North to provide a more flexible space that better supports a variety of pedagogical approaches. The new configuration has tables on wheels and allows for various class configurations. The space also serves as a great meeting or book talk venue. Before the renovation, the space was severely underutilized. Since the renovation, bookings have increased dramatically. Class participants do need to bring wireless devices, but the library has ample laptops available for checkout. We still have Classroom 2 with 24 seats in a traditional configuration. Classroom 2 also features Faronics Insight, added based on a faculty member’s request, to facilitate screen sharing.

Are there any other services you would find valuable? Coffee shop, the new LOVELY roof deck

Are there any other library services or resources you consider important? CURVE

First, we are glad you love the new terrace at Library North. It was a great bonus from building the new entrance! We were also pleased to see support for the CURVE. We invite you to take advantage of these two very different spaces – a casual outdoor retreat and a research-intensive space with a 24′ wide video wall and collaborative workstations.

Regarding the coffee shop downtown, we’ve been as frustrated as anyone with the lack of a coffee shop this year. The details of the change in management are too tedious to go into. At this point, we are focused on getting the new coffee shop, which will be located in the new Study Commons, open for the fall semester. The new Saxbys will be under new management as a corporate store and offer a great student-run learning program.  

There were many other ideas shared that we are thinking about:

  • Staging student research projects in library displays. (We love this idea and the CURVE video wall and physical spaces at Clarkston and Dunwoody might be ideal places to do this. Contact Dean Jeff Steely to discuss this idea more.)
  • Phone booths for students. (We may have the perfect spot for this downtown.)
  • A common shared space for “science tutoring” with models. (We’ll follow up with the person who made this suggestion to learn more.)
  • Kid-friendly areas. (This one requires a little more thought.)

Thank you for providing us with feedback on library spaces. When we open the downtown Study Commons in the fall of 2023, the new space will offer the relocated and reopened café; a wellness room that will support lactation needs; four single-user, gender-neutral restrooms; 8 small study rooms; 2 – 3 meeting rooms; and a designated quiet study area. We hope you come to check it out!

Draft furniture plan for the Study Commons
Draft furniture plan for the Study Commons