By Victoria Gill
“We wanted to make sure we expanded to meet the needs of the students,” said Mary Alice Ball, dean of library and academic technology.
The library has added new seating for about 50 students on the main floor, according to the Aug. 22 email. To do this, the three shelves of the Maryland Collection and another shelf of periodicals were either moved onto the second floor, into the John and Judy Kohl study room, or digitized. The Media:scape table on the first floor was also purchased by the Women’s League of Washington College.
With the Maryland Collection occupying a lot of the second floor’s center section, all the tables and seats are now congregated closer together. Additionally, by October the library will have installed two-person study pods for more student interaction on the second floor, according to Director of Resource Management Jackie DeLong.
“I am a believer of noisy libraries. We want people to interact and work with one another,” Ball said.
In the basement, the Makerspace has expanded beyond their glass wall office into the back corner of the library, adding more workstations. They hope to expand both production and photogrammetry studios this fall.
The change that staff has expressed excitement for is the shift from the Pharos printing system to Ink. Ink is a “cloud-based environmentally friendly, printing kiosk” coming this fall, according to the Aug. 22 email.
“The whole goal is to provide you with a very flexible printing solution that you currently have with [Pharos],” said Sharon Sledge, chief academic technology officer.
These new “smart stations” can print, scan, fax, copy, and even mail files from phones while consuming less energy, according to Sledge. There will be three Ink kiosks stored in Miller Library, Sophie’s Café and in Hodson Hall Commons by Martha’s Kitchen.
In conjunction, the library staff has informed students that their printing credit has changed. Senior and Pell-Grant eligible students now receive $14 in printing credit while everyone else’s reduced. This reduction comes after the library team found that students spent between $7 to $11 a year, according to Ball.
While many students need to print in the library for course packs or readings, Ball said they are helping faculty continue to transition from print to digital course packs and assignments.
As the individual overseeing collection development and management, DeLong is the go-to person for system administration work and library resources as she transitions the reference collection for online access. DeLong has been asking faculty what materials should be retained, as many coursebooks are not in use or out of date.
Periodicals were digitized to an app called Flipster. The app is downloadable on your phone and computer.
To assist with the sustainability initiative on campus, Miller Library is becoming a pilot for analyzing the consumption of resources by replacing paper towel dispensers in the library with drying fans. Ball joked that as a Dean of Library Resources she never saw herself taking and analyzing data for bathroom paper towels.
Because of this cost efficiency push, the library staff decided to reduce the building hours until midnight.
Most late-night students came solely to print. If there is a printing kiosk in Sophie’s Café, which is available after midnight, the library would not need to be open that late, according to DeLong.
Ball and DeLong both come from larger universities where similar changes and technologies are the norm.
“The Provost asked me to make some changes. So, it’s really responding to her vision about what Library and Academic Technology could be,” Ball said.
Because it is open 24/7, Sophie’s Café now has comfortable seating, couches, and a rug “for late night reading,” according to the Aug. 22 email.
Many of these changes were from donations and gift funds from alumni. Ball and DeLong found this touching as they continue their work to better the educational experience of the students and faculty.
“If students are going to be prepared for today’s workplace, they need to come to us [LAT] because we are going to give them the skills that will get them jobs. Whether it’s knowing how to do research in an online environment, and instead of, hopefully over the next year, instituting and training people to do the best searching,” Ball said.
Using technology helps students present themselves online more effectively, according to Ball.
“We’re in a new world, WC students have always been competitive because people know the excellence of the education. We want to know that what we teach within this group [LAT] can help them much more than they think,” Ball said.