Lessons learned by a change in location

While our library is being renovated, we are temporarily located in the student lounge, which is smaller than our old (soon to be new again) space, and different in design:

Original library > one huge room with second-story height, surrounded by upper windows letting in loads of light; additional upper and lower levels; large teaching/meeting space, can fit 75-100 with room to spare (I know how fortunate we are!)

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Temporary space > one much smaller, darker room, large enough to fit (almost) everything from old space but with much less wiggle room and no separate teaching/meeting space, can fit 40 in a pinch

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Trying to focus on finding opportunities rather than identifying problems (a work in progress), here are just a few of the things we’ve learned while using this space:

Appreciating location

 We all know that it matters, and I’m grateful that our (usual) location is at the geographic centre of our campus. However, being underneath (and more importantly, on route to) our dining hall is proving to be a bonus. We are now visited by students who hadn’t set foot in the Library before, and while food & drink are now a little bit more of an issue, the new traffic is worth it – lunch time can be positively rocking! I just have to learn how to deal with the smell of bacon every morning (or work on my self control).

Being creative

It gets interesting in here during class visits, with other students in close proximity, so we’re having some fun with it. During a recent Gr 11 class, I wanted to quickly identify our Non-Fiction collection at other end of room: seeing a Gr 12 student in the stacks, I called out a request to have him do an airplane-safety-demonstration-style routine to identify this area, which he did ably and to the great amusement of both classes. Disruptive – slightly. Entertaining & educational – definitely.

 Managing noise

 It could be difficult to keep groups quiet in our old space: the vastness of the room lent a sense of being hidden away in a particular corner, along with a lack of understanding about the fact that noise carried.  Quite frankly, we were dreading having to deal with noisy groups in a much smaller space – until we didn’t have to. What a pleasant surprise to find that the close proximity of kids working together has eliminated most noise issues, and the kids are much better at policing themselves. We still have to manage the noise level at times – mostly the aforementioned lunch hours, and when we get carried away (are we the only Library staff out there who often find it’s US who are being too loud?)

 Eavesdropping

Having closer proximity to kids means that we have more opportunity to overhear student conversations – even if we would prefer not to at times!) However, hearing one student ask another about how to summarize an argument or come up with a thesis is an invitation to a conversation that often proves helpful. Students may overhear me working with a student (for example, building a Reference List), and then ask for assistance. Again, we’re reaching a different audience.

Construction is on track and we’re excited about our renovated space. However, I’m so pleased to discover that we’re learning lots about how we do what we do in this temporary location, and it will help us to plan how to use our updated space to better serve our students.

2 thoughts on “Lessons learned by a change in location

  1. Thanks for the peek into your transitional space, Shelagh. It really is a good opportunity to see one’s library– program and collection– from a different perspective. When we were in a similar position 3 years ago we found the temporary change in location was instrumental in helping us re-evaluate our library practices as well as our physical space.

    When do you move back in to your brand new space? Be sure to let us know how the process goes when you do.
    Thanks again, and good luck!

  2. It’s great to hear about the positive aspects of your temporary space (love the eavesdropping!). Once I worked in a library that was relocated to a small community church while undergoing construction. It was an interesting time: space was cramped, half of our collection was in storage, and it was dark. The location brought in a number of new patrons who stuck with us when we moved into our beautiful new digs. Although change brings challenges, there are many positives.

    Thanks for sharing, Shelagh.

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