During this day and age, it is extremely probable to ask the question “why is it that in this day and age we are still running and operating libraries?” To answer this question let’s ask why we go to the library. The two main reasons that we visit the library are to access resources and to work in a place of professionalism. Presumably, if these are the reasons that we go to the library we can easily say that this is the criteria for a “good library”. Creating a library with a suitable work environment is not the hardest mission to accomplish. Simply make sure no one talks too loud and place comfy furniture around. I can easily say that the western library has succeeded at making itself a place where students can easily focus on whatever it is that they are working on. However, providing physical recourses to its students is a much more complicated game.
The library does an excellent job of providing several types of recourses to its students. Mainly project and research oriented recourses. Printers, poster printers, 3d printers, computers with advanced design programs can all be found in the student technology center along with an infinite access to any kind of research that need be done.
There is a place in the library that perfectly shows its ability to fulfill one of its criteria. The harry potter room is a perfect example of the library creating a professional work environment. From the moment you walk in the room, you will see students scattered across the room sitting in age-old chairs studiously working away. All across the walls of the room are the posted black and white faces of former faculty members. This room receives its reputation as the quiet room for a reason. There is basically one unspoken rule that is universally understood upon entering the room. Don’t be annoying. It’s simple and very easy to follow. There’s no need for a security guard or any kind of enforcement in the room. Everyone follows the rule well and with no hesitation. This is what makes the quiet room such an amazing example of a professional workspace; it is a place where all students can work unharmed by each other’s work.
However, having an overabundance of resources that don’t contribute well to the needs of western students can be a problem. What is important is that a library can adapt easily and well in terms of providing resources to its students. The Western library has always adapted to the needs of its students. According to the western archives the library received its first computers during the 1980s and recently have implemented 3d printers the student technology center. I have also found that the library is very useful in terms of adapting to the needs of certain common classes. Communication is vital between the library and the highly populated classes of western.
Though the library offers a wide variety of resources, it might seem impish and whimsical to other universities libraries. It might be hard to compare two different universities recourses and systems. For instance, who’s to say WSU’s Greek system is preferable to our non-fraternal system. We have different systems and resources in place that are specific to our benefit here at western. However, this does not mean that we should ignore the practices and behaviors of other schools. Perhaps we should not look at the schools with vastly more recourses as “what are we missing that they have?” but rather “what do they have that would benefit us?”
One of the greatest recourses that our library lacks in comparison to the University of Washington is a maker’s space. “What’s that?” you may ask.
The UW maker space defines itself online as a place that:
- Provides access to a wide variety of tools and equipment for prototyping, as well as studio space for individuals and teams to create and share projects.
- Is community-centered and diverse; a social place for people with different skills and common interests to collaborate and learn from each other.
- Provides an open environment for innovation and creative expression.
The maker space on the UW campus has everything from 3d printers, hand tools, computers, laser engravers and hand tools. This is vital to help spawn creativity and critical thinking. Western does not have many departments or resources dedicated to this purpose that is open to the entire campus. We do have 3d printers, which can be an extremely useful tool to become familiar with. However, during my interview with an employee of the Student Technology Center, Tim Yank told me that “We tend to see about the same dozen or so people use the 3d printers.” Western does provide its students with the resources they need to succeed but perhaps it should also strive to provide students with the resources they need to gain creativity and explore their own ideas.
Besides lacking a space for students to help grow and spawn creativity, the library also misuses a large portion of its space to storage. Why is the library using entire floors to store books that are not read by the majority of the campus? Obviously, we cannot get rid of all books on the floor. However, we could easily make use of the space that is taken up by books that are never read.
The western library overall accomplishes its job. It does provide the needed resources and a comfortable work environment that the students need to succeed. The library could try to focus more on providing resources that the students could use to build personal projects in or make better use of its space. However, any additions to the library might be nowhere near in the future due to the need of a second gym.