renovations & revelations

For almost two years now, the main floor of my library has been under renovation. During this time, this is what happened to the services and departments on that floor:

  • Information desk: GONE. (Most people probably asked questions at the circulation desk.)
  • Circulation desk (including holds and graduate reserves): STAYED in place, though had to deal with changes due to construction, then MOVED to its new location near the entrance.
  • Reference desk and collections: DOWNSIZED by about 50% and MOVED temporarily to an out-of-the-way location on the A-level (the floor below the main floor) while the new reading room on the main floor was being built.
  • Periodical stacks: permanently MOVED into renovated space on the A-level.
  • Presentation room and executive conference room: STAYED.
  • Collections, Research, and Instructional Services(my department): two separate areas permanently MOVED into combined and renovated offices on the A-level.
  • Access Services: permanently MOVED into renovated offices on the A-level.
  • Library Human Resources: permanently MOVED into renovated offices (shared with Library Business Services) on the 2nd floor.
  • Library Administration Office: STAYED.

So, what’s new on this floor, you ask? A research commons, a café, a big seminar/ presentation room, and an exhibit room for special collections. As already mentioned, the circulation desks and reference reading room are also on this floor, but in different locations from before; another exhibit area has also been moved to a different location.

The space is set to open in time for the fall quarter (which begins September 19). My department, which is in charge of some of the spaces–namely, the research commons and the reference reading room, finally got a tour of the blocked-off spaces a month ago.

We started our tour in the café. The café’s name? Café 451. Sound familiar? It is named after Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, who wrote that novel in the basement of Powell Library. (Do I work in the Powell Library? No. Do I know what the significance of that number is and what the book is about? Yes.) Here are a couple of pictures of the café:

Next to the cafe is the exhibit room for highlights from our special collections. I didn’t take a picture of the room.

We proceeded to the seminar/presentation room, which is where one of our departmental offices used to be. This is a space intended to invite campus events–seminars, meetings, films, performances, lectures, etc.–into the library. It features two-way video technology.

It also includes a translation room, shown below (though you can’t really see it with our reflections in the glass). The translator would sit here and provide real-time translation of the event; foreign guests or anyone else needing translation services would receive the translation on headphones. This presentation space is still unfinished and probably won’t be open by the start of the fall quarter, though the first event is slated in October.

This is the research commons area. It is full of bright orange, lime green, and blue furniture in “pods” and other grouped arrangements. The pods all have screens, which I think are meant to display what’s on your computer screens, so you can all look at the same thing.

This is the back of one of the chairs. It looked striking, so I had to take a picture of it.

In addition to the main group work area, the research commons have several other areas. This area is an instructional space for small groups.

I believe (I wasn’t listening all that carefully) that big screen, the space in front of it, and the room across from it (the wall on the right side of this picture) is part of a digital demonstration area/research lab. (I don’t want to call this a digital humanities lab since our department/library serves both the humanities and social sciences.)

There is another instruction area, which is enclosed. I didn’t take a picture of it, but I think it is the wall on the left of the picture below. It has similar green chairs as the other instruction space. It has two-way technology, so a class can be talking to another class or a lecturer in another part of the world. On the right of this picture are group study rooms. There are more study rooms at the end of the hallway, where the exit sign is. Many of the rooms have computer screens. These can be booked in advanced; unreserved rooms are available for walk-ins.

Outside the research commons is a hallway that is being dubbed “the street.” You can kind of see it to the left and the back of this picture.

Here’s a view from the top of “the street.”

At the end of “the street is this seating arrangement.


I’ll end this post here and put the rest of the photos in a separate post.

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