Kreitzberg renovations bring library up-to-date

Renovations on the Kreitzberg Library for students and faculty, beginning last winter and ending late this summer, have added more room and improved technology to the building.

The library needed to “move to a digital format,” said the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Frank Vanecek. “Technology has rapidly outpaced where our library was,” said Vanecek. “We needed to get our library up to speed.”

The library, built a quarter century ago, was renovated over the past year to improve technology, study space, and create the addition of a small café and meeting area.

Problems identified and targeted in the overhaul included not enough space to study in groups, not enough space for the Academic Achievement Center (AAC), a better location for the counseling center and a need to upgrade technology.

Vanecek explained that students need more room to study in groups in order to achieve academically and the AAC and counseling center also needed more room to be successful and help students in their time of need.

All the books on the 4th floor were removed to different locations to make room for a new AAC and counseling center. There are now improved areas where students can “sit, congregate, talk, and work on projects,” said Vanecek. “The counseling center was just a hole in the wall” that has now been renovated to give counselors and students space to talk in privacy.

The nine-month-long project was planned about five years ago according to Vanecek. The funding needed to be planned along with what it was that the library needed. Vanecek explained that surveys were conducted to find out what it was that students wanted to see, which ended up being more space, improved technology, and a café that had later hours than Dunkin’ Donuts.

Library Director Greg Sauer explained that the decision to go ahead with the project came after the library was looked at by the Jones Architects of Salem, Mass. a firm specializing in educational institutions, which provided details on what could be done for improvements to the Board of Trustees. Sauer also mentioned that student feedback was used to contribute the plans for how the library should be used and designed.

The total cost of the project would came out to $6.8 million. “The Bicentennial Campaign,” said Sauer is where most of the money came from, however some funds came from a few grants.

Sauer explained that the campaign is meant to raise $100 million for renovations all over campus, the library being the first building in the process.

More renovations will follow in Ainsworth, Webb, and Dewey Hall, with all funding coming from the fundraising campaign.

Both students and faculty agreed that the library needed an update after 25 years. It was lacking in technology advances such as big monitors to plug in computers for presentations, interactive monitors and group study rooms with the capability to reserve them right from any computer.

The library was not physically old, but “figuratively old,” said Thomas Blood, the circulation manager. “Everything about the library was old school.”

Blood suggested that one of the biggest positive effects of the renovations is that students are finding the library more “comfortable,” in a sense that they can sit and relax and gather in comfortable chairs. The students will not have to walk all the way to The Mill or Dunkin’ Donuts for food because they can get it right at the café and the workspace is oriented more towards group studies as well as, getting students to work together.

Another positive effect is the increase in student activity in the library, with the addition of couches, booths, stools and chairs all being “heavily used now,” said Vanecek. Students started to congregate in the downstairs area right when they got back from summer break.

Space is a common factor that was brought up by many students and faculty in surveys: The library was simply too small to operate in today. The original design was used as a stepping stone for the new library. “It was really about maximizing the existing footprint of the building,” said John Holm, the electronic resources Librarian.

Before renovations there were only two group study rooms that were occupied most of the time. Now there are 10. Each one now contains ports for students to plug in phones, tablets, or computers to a monitor. This is a part of the “collaborative technology,” said Holm.

Collaboration was one of the main goals when it was decided to renovate the library. Holm explained that students are now going to be able and more willing to work in groups and gather around one person’s project or presentation.

 

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