I recently met with the university’s facilities manager at work to talk about future uses to which the library staff would like to put our building. The general plan has been that the library would acquire the basement (lowest of a three story building) when the most recently built academic building was completed. Unfortunately, that new building was scaled back and it seems unlikely that our acquisition of the lower level, which has three classrooms, will occur any time soon. We would like to relocate all of our current ten years worth of periodicals to the lower level, where we currently house any periodicals older than ten years in two closed stack storage rooms. Co-locating all the periodicals in an open location would reduce a lot of staff work and make materials more easily accessible to users. It would also free up some prime floor space on our main floor so that we could reorient services and create a little more space for students to spread out.

The two floors the library occupies are overfull. Without shifting materials to another location, we will not be able to rearrange our current use, let alone effect some major space usage changes. We are running out of shelf space on our top floor which houses our general collection, along with four more discreet collections. We continue to reduce our print book and periodical subscriptions, moving more online, or just going without (both intentionally to serve a broader clientele and due to prices increasing in the midst of budget stagnation, regression, or total cuts in materials budgets). We have a bit more time to figure something out since we aren’t adding as much print material as in the past. We could do some more strenuous weeding, or switch to an ‘add one, remove one’ collection development model to keep our collection from growing totally beyond our ability to house it.

We have two study rooms, but would like to offer more spaces for group work. We have large tables with six to eight chairs around them on the ‘quiet floor’, sending mixed messages to students who need spaces for group work. Our study carrels are crammed back to back, such that two people are not likely to use facing spaces. So, in addition to the periodical move to the lower level, we’d also want to utilize some existing offices as study rooms (maybe add an inside facing window or glass in the door as a safety measure though). This would still leave room on the lower level for relocating some of the large tables for a more open space where groups could work, along with some of the book collections from the top floor, freeing up more space there to create more inviting and roomy individual study spots.

Those are some ideas we have, but it really seems like it will be a major uphill battle to continue to try to convince others on campus that it is worth the effort and expense.

Library building use planning
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