If you spend a lot in the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library, chances are you’ve noticed something different this semester—the shelving area to the left of the main entry has been reconfigured to better suit the needs of users.
“The (Science and Engineering) library has been looking for ways to make the main entry area more attractive and useful for our patrons,” said Esther Onega, the head of the library. According to Onega, the reasons for the change were three-fold: to make the space more inviting, to use the shelving to increase access to undergraduate research, and to improve traffic flow and visual appeal.
The shelving was rearranged to make the area into a functional reading and study space configured for small group study. Previously the only seating was in single chairs at the ends of the bookshelves, but the rearrangement created more seating with tables, and made outlets in the floor accessible. The bookshelves, which had been sparsely populated with print journals, were put to better use with a display of Fourth-Year engineering theses. The shelves now display 10 years worth of these theses. Finally, the move allowed the library to move printers to a lower traffic area. Users in line for printers were previously impeding access to classrooms and restrooms.
The work was done based on responses to a user survey conducted by the library. Users expressed a desire for an area that retained the shelving, but was more “open and flowing” with standing room and space for group study. According to Onega, “the project was completed in just half a day before the spring semester started. The space has been heavily used; in fact, students began using the new group seating areas immediately—and the semester hadn’t even begun yet. This was a wonderful collaboration and the results are beautiful!”