Friday, November 30, 2007

Quiet as a Tomb? Not a chance!

An October 9 article in LBCC’s Viking, “New Library Offers Earful,” reviewed the challenges facing students seeking a quiet place to study on campus. Traditionally, that has been the library. Students who had a home or roommate situation that was distracting or disruptive, making it hard for them to focus on research, have depended upon the library for respite and refuge. As acknowledged in the Viking article, this situation has changed.

Today’s academic library no longer is a place of total quiet. The tomblike atmosphere the prevailed at college and university libraries during most of the last century no longer is the expectation, nor is it practical. Modern library buildings are designed to accommodate a broad range of research activity and a variety of study styles.

• Computer workstations have a prominent role in the research and study, and their numbers and visibility have increased steadily over the years.

• Students need and expect to work together collaboratively, to be able to carry on conversations with one another or in groups as they prepare for a presentation or project while using library information resources.

• Reference librarians need to be able to confer with students at the reference desk or at their workstation to provide advice and assistance, facilitating the research process.

But besides being places where conversation and collaboration are welcome, libraries need to continue to offer spaces that respect and accommodate individual student needs for quiet and concentration. As LBCC builds its new library, and as CSULB completes its building renovation, there has been extensive planning to insure adequate space for both group and individual study.

During construction of the new library building, when the library has been temporarily relocated to building E, with other services housed in trailers, space is very limited. There are 27 seats for those not using computer workstations in the temporary library site. In the foyer and corridor outside this space there are 34 additional seats at tables and cubicles.

In building E there really is no place where absolute quiet can be provided. The library, with its service desks and many computer workstations, is a place where foot traffic, conversation, and noise from keyboards, copiers, and printers will occur. The foyer and corridor area of the building E basement, though still a thoroughfare for students entering and leaving the library, is somewhat shielded from other sources of distraction, and for now offers the best chance of satisfying a student’s desire for quiet study conditions.

We apologize for this temporary period of disruption and inconvenience, the inevitable consequence of embarking upon a major building project. We want to assure the campus community that today’s less than ideal conditions will be displaced by a beautiful and functional library facility in 2009.

For more information contact: Kim Barclay, LBCC Libraries Department Head

Library Update #47