Library funds upgrades

(Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

Returning students will be noticing some major changes this year as they head to the library to study and conduct research. A number of physical, technological and resource upgrades have been implemented in order to improve user experience for students and staff.

“For a student, having a good experience means having good spaces to study and being successful academically. Those days of very static libraries are gone. We are more and more about helping people to interact with information and providing spaces and designing experiences,” said Gohar Ashoughian, the university librarian for Wilfrid Laurier University.

Immediately visible changes are on the library’s main floor, where the circulation and reference desks have been amalgamated into a “one-stop shop for students,” and additional work spaces have been added. An accessible shelf for reserves and holds is now available to students, while upper floors are seeing the addition of 365 new electrical sockets.

The changes have taken over a year to implement and cost approximately $80,000 of the library budget.

Insufficient study space was one of the primary considerations that factored into staff discussions.

“Last year, for example, we found a big increase in the number of people coming here to study. So it was really a priority for us to have more student spaces, because we had lots of times when people just could not find a place to sit and study,” explained Joanne Oud, acting associate university librarian for learning and research studies.

“For students, especially for undergraduate students, space is of prime value when they do their studies,” Ashoughian affirmed. “We also realized that no matter what, there is always not enough space for students to study.”

Ashoughian hopes that more spaces can be created in the future through the more efficient use of space. She suggested that bringing in a consultant to create a master plan would be one possibility.

Other changes to make information more accessible to students include the extension of research support hours and an improved website, which is now compatible with tablets and cell phones.

According to Oud, there has been a high demand for research support from library staff, particularly during peak assignment times.

She commented, “One of our goals is to have the same services if somebody comes at 11 o’clock at night as if they came at 11 o’clock in the morning.”

Third-year student Lauren Randall has already taken note of the new library features.

“It’s more open and there’s more seating,” she observed. “I like it.”

While Randall expressed satisfaction with the existing library facilities, more changes are likely to come.

“So far, I am satisfied with what we have managed to achieve, but this is not going to be it,” confirmed Ashoughian.
Oud continued, “I think we will be evolving, because we’re always trying to look to see how it is people are using our various services.

So based on feedback that we get, we’ll definitely be looking to improve things. It’ll be an ongoing process.”

Determining which changes to implement began in 2011, with an external review. A user survey of faculty and students also helped provide critical feedback.

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