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Library unveils newly-renovated second floor

Students looking for a place to study can expect to see many changes if they venture to the second floor of the Robert E. Kennedy library.

The space has been undergoing renovations throughout the summer as part of a plan to better accommodate student group work and provide a new home for Julian’s Patisserie.

The transformation was almost complete with eight new glassed-in study rooms equipped with flat screen monitors and white boards, as well as many other group seating stations.

Julian’s is scheduled to open Wednesday. Associated Students Inc. will be giving tours of the area from 2 to 4 p.m. as part of their “What’s New” tour.

Anna Gold, associate dean for public services, said that the changes are not about computers or books, but rather about people interacting, conversing and working together.

“I’m just so excited to see how the students respond,” Gold said. “It allows people to see each other and to really have a marvelous environment in which to study.”

The renovations began as “a germ of an idea,” incorporating the idea that a library is a place where learning happens and relationships are built now that students will not have to leave to fulfill their studying needs, Gold said.

“We expect there will be growth; we’re going to see people staying longer,” she said. “You can spend hours here and be comfortable and now that you can get food here, you won’t have to leave even for that.”

“Without this kind of space for students, I don’t think anyone has really experienced what a learning commons could be,” she added.

Mike Miller, dean of library services, said he has gotten positive feedback from students so far and joked that his favorite part of the renovations is the addition of pastries.

“I think the most fun for me is when students come back in and they get this perplexed look, like, ‘It doesn’t look like a library anymore, it looks kind of cool, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to be here,’ ” Miller said. “But we let them know they are, especially in the meeting rooms with the white boards and flat panels and comfortable chairs.”

Miller said now that the renovations are in place, students will have all they need when studying long hours. A record 1.3 million visits were made to the library last year.

“Typically students come to work – you need food, you need sugar, you need caffeine to keep you going,” he said. “Now we can provide that.”

The area will be used as a science café as well, a space where people can discuss topics in an informal setting.

“What we want to do in our polytechnic environment is mix it up a little and not make it exclusively science,” Miller said. “I’d like to have a speaker’s venue where humanities students can learn about science topics, but I also want scientists and engineers to learn about the arts. I want all the disciplines to talk about ethical, political, and social issues, not in a highly structured academic way, but more in an informal accessible way.”

Comfortable seating isn’t the only thing to look forward to in the coming year. Dale Kohler, director of library information technology, said network upgrades can be expected.

“We’re making more technology available, so we’re expanding the number of work stations for students to use in the library-there is going to be around 300 now,” said Kohler. “In addition to that, we’re trying to make it more friendly for students to bring their own laptops, plug in, connect and get on the network without problems.”

They are currently rolling out a common software image for all the computers in the library so that no matter where you go, you have access to the same software and the same capabilities.

“The machines have all been upgraded so that they are all within the last three years,” he said. “It should be great.”

Renovations in the library are still in motion, with plans to expand the 24-hour study space, provide a quiet section, expand Poly Connect and improve the atrium, Miller said.

“Whether it’s an actual project for class, or whether its just the camaraderie of working together with friends, we’re creating an environment that helps support people during their scholarship,” he said.