Campus / News / November 5, 2009

Study space demand grows

Over the past several years, the campus has expanded study areas in order to accommodate the influx of students, all of who need space to complete their studies. The installment of Founders as a computer lab and renovations to the library in the 1980s, ‘90s and again in the early 2000s has been able to keep up with student need.

“We don’t really get a sense of the library being full,” said librarian Sharon Clayton. “I still think there’s a need for more study space on campus. The library is doing a good job of doing its part to meet [these] needs.”

Seniors Deanna Wendel and Erin Souza both said that they have used the library for studying. However, they both wish there was different study space that was more available to students during the night.

“My best work I do between one and four a.m. and I have to do it [in my room],” said Wendel. “For some reason, I can’t make myself do things during the day. I’m just more of a night person.”

Since she was a freshman, Wendel has had the habit of working during the night hours. If she does work during the day, she usually goes to the Gizmo.

“There’s noise, but not distracting noise [in the Gizmo],” said Wendel. “It’s not hard to find places, it’s just hard to find places you like.”

Souza also often uses the Gizmo in the morning for study space but finds the area too distracting after meal times begin. When she was a freshman, she studied in the library, but found that many people were having conversations and coughing loudly where she was trying to concentrate.

“I tried [studying in the library] during finals and it was packed,” said Souza.

On the other hand, Sousa does not like using Founders because it is too quiet and one little noise becomes distracting. Then, when it is quiet for too long, Souza feels tired. Wendel does not like studying in Founders either.

“I don’t like being surrounded by the people in there,” said Wendel. “I feel exposed.”

Both Sousa and Wendel said they are uncomfortable in Founders because they are so close to people and they feel like other students are looking over their shoulders at their work.

Neither Sousa or Wendel are able to study in their Hamblin apartment.

“I never get any work done [in my room],” said Wendel. She finds that the other students living in her apartment often become distracting when she is trying to do work.

“It’s harder to work [in my apartment] because I have my own stuff to get distracted with,” said Souza. “I tend to procrastinate more when I’m here.”

Souza would like more space at Knox to take her laptop and study besides the library. She sometimes finds it difficult to find a space to plug in her laptop in the Gizmo and does not know where else to go.

Clayton said that there are times when the library is busier, such as on evenings before large projects are due and around midterms and finals. However, there is usually still some space to spare. The library can accommodate most student needs, except for the need for a 24-hour study space.

“We just don’t have a way to do that. Students have a real need for it,” said Clayton.

The library cannot become a 24-hour space, Clayton said, because it would have to have an alternative entrance, which it was not built for. This entrance cannot be built since it is an historical building. There would also be security issues with leaving the space open.

“It would be really nice if the library were open until three a.m.,” said Wendel.

Souza also wanted to see a late-night study space created on campus.

“I have clubs right after classes and I have work at night,” said Souza. “By the time that I’m starting my work, the library’s about ready to close.”

Over the past five years, the library has seen increased gate-counts and reference questions.

The library tries to accommodate several different study habits, including designating quiet areas from space where students can have conversations, space for groups to meet and work on projects, private study rooms and large comfy chairs for student use.

“You get students who want quiet alone space to study. You get students who actually benefit from a noisier and more social study environment,” said Clayton. “We really try to keep the balance.”

Currently, the first floor is an area for noisier studying and cell phone use along with the group study areas on the second floor. The second and third floor study cubicles along with the basement study areas are quiet zones. Clayton said there have not been many complaints regarding these rules being broken.

The library also offers 12 offices for students, usually seniors who are doing Honors Projects and will be using the library extensively. Many of these offices are shared by two students. Wendel is doing a project this year in English.

“I study in my Honors office,” said Wendel. “I’m immersing myself in it.”

Wendel has been able to utilize the space in order to spread out and organize her project. She finds the space very useful, though she wishes she could use the office after hours.

In addition to offering study space, the library also provides a limited number of computers, audio-visual equipment, laptops, white boards and micro-phish equipment for student use.

The library also keeps its collections largely within the building.

“The library is pretty much at capacity in terms of how many books it can hold,” said Clayton. To combat this issue, the library only orders one copy of each book and periodically holds sales of donated and multiple-holdings that the library has found are not needed. The library is not selling single-copy editions from its collections.

“We’re very committed to trying not to do that,” said Clayton.

An additional solution to this problem is the I-Share program. Knox is a member of a consortium of colleges. Because of this, Knox students can request books they need sent to Knox if Knox does not already have an available copy.

In terms of material, the Knox library is “pretty much set for the next year,” said Clayton.

Laura Miller

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