Letter to the Editor

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The libraries thank Andrew Peters for his eloquent and thoughtful piece “Hunt should be redesigned for the 21st-century student” (November 6). Peters’ ideas coincide with our plans.

To recapture space for students, we built an offsite storage facility in 2005, which enabled us to transfer many older materials out of the libraries. Users can request stored materials and have them within 24 hours.

Our first project repurposing space was Maggie Murph Café, funded by over $350,000 in gifts from alumni and friends of the Margaret Morrison College for Women.

In the last five years, other generous donors have also improved the library experience for students: Margaret Cyert funded and then endowed finals study breaks, Virginia Schatz seeded development of a recreational DVD collection, and Cyert and other alumni met a $500,000 challenge grant to establish a $1 million endowment for new electronic resources.

Other student-centered initiatives:

Plans are underway to create group study areas in Hunt and E&S libraries by fall 2007, a napping pod is being considered, and Facilities Management will bring more electrical outlets into Hunt by fall 2007.
Based on student requests, Hunt has already instituted an extra week before finals of 24-hour opening to facilitate students’ completion of papers and projects.

The Libraries are seeking a student advisory group to assist planning and decision-making. I am in contact with student government, graduate student associations, and dormitory council to identify interested students who are willing to serve in an advisory capacity to the libraries.

Funding, of course, is the constraint, both in renovation plans and in hours of opening. Students’ expectations for the library — made plain by surveys, focus groups, and articles such as Peters’ — will always influence our thinking and planning. The popularity of the renovated café area this fall tells us that students enjoy the open, inviting atmosphere of Hunt’s glass and aluminum structure. We will continue to direct fundraising and other activities toward supporting 21st-century learning in all of the University Libraries.

Gloriana St. Clair
Dean of University Libraries