New Library website coming in mid-summer.   Learn more.

Library Student Resource Group: Minutes Jan 26 2007

Library Student Resource Group

January 26, 2007


Present: Rebecca Fitzgerald, Dan Kimerling, Bridget Madden, Jillian Marshall, Fran Spaltro, Andy Thompson,
Judi Nadler, Megan Hammond, Jim Vaughan, Sem Sutter, John Kimbrough

Regenstein Infrastructure Projects

The Reg's physical infrastructure is 30 years old and needs to be rebuilt. The good news is that University Facilities is aware of this need, and has allocated personnel and funds for several projects designed to upgrade JRL building systems. The bad news is that all these projects make the Reg hot (or cold), noisy, and otherwise uncomfortable.


[HVAC Project Web Page] For the past few years, contractors have been working on the ventilation systems in the Reg. This has included replacing giant air air handlers in the basement, installing new "mixing boxes" and other equipment, and rerouting ceiling ductwork. This last operation is one of the reasons the acoustical ceiling tiles are missing in most areas of Regenstein. This work is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2007.

When working on a particular air handling system, the contractors turn it off. As a result, the air in spaces served by that system has nothing to do except sit around and get warm. This has made parts of the Reg sauna-like in the past few weeks. The temperature variations will be resolved when the ceiling tiles come back and the system is "rebalanced" in summer 2007.

Sprinkler/Fire Suppression Installation

As you might expect in Chicago, new and renovated buildings are required to have sprinklers or some form of fire protection. The University would like to "sprinkle" all buildings on campus, and the lack of ceiling tiles bumped the Reg to the top of the list. Fire suppression work began this week and will continue into the summer.

Electrical Upgrades

Infrastructure: The electrical infrastructure in Regenstein has not aged gracefully. Much of it was manufactured by companies no longer in business, making replacement parts hard (if not impossible) to obtain. There is an ongoing project to swap out old circuit breakers, switches, and transformers for their newer counterparts, entailing various electrical shutdowns and interruptions. While much of the work takes place when the building is closed, some shutdowns inevitably occur during open hours.

New Outlets: In addition to upgrading the electrical system, the University also funded installing additional power outlets in the reading areas of Regenstein, bringing the building total to over 1000 outlets. This project was completed February 9, but many outlets do not have power yet due to lack of stable electrical circuits (see the infrastructure project, above). We hope to have all outlets functioning by 9th week (Feb 26 - Mar 2).

Technology-Equipped Seminar Rooms

The Library plans to renovate some of the seminar rooms in Regenstein into technology-equipped rooms, with a "media cabinet" and A/V system similar to the classrooms in Cobb and Harper. The first candidate for this work is room 207, currently used as staff space for Periodicals sorting and processing. The work is tentatively scheduled to take place in summer 2007.

Study Carrel Replacement

The existing carrels were built to accomodate study habits of a different era. Although the funding isn't in place yet, the Library hopes to purchase new carrels that will better accomodate laptop use, and would like to get the LSRG's opinion on various carrel designs. This may be an agenda topic for a future meeting.

Laptop Security

A question about the proposed new carrels, and if they could have attachments for laptop cable locks, led to a discussion about recent laptop thefts in Regenstein. Possible ways to deter theft:

24-Hour Study Space Move to Crerar

Judi explained the rationale behind the 24-hour study space's shift from the Reg to Crerar: certain areas of the JRL bookstacks are out of space, and the Library was faced with the option of either claiming reading space for bookstacks, or shipping materials off to a (rented) warehouse, where they would be inaccessible. The former option was the lesser of two evils, so the Library put shelves in the A-Level reading area, and began keeping the first floor of Crerar open 24 hours.

Many students were (are) upset by the 24-hour space move. Bridget and Jillian emphasized the covenience of the Reg: it's easier for students studying in the evening to move within the building rather than walk outside to a different location. The Reg is also closer to late-night sources of food and coffee such as eX Libris and Bartlett, and occupies a more central location on campus than Crerar.

The A-Level also fostered comraderie. Pulling all-nighters turned into a social event: you went with friends, and helped each other get through the night. This atmosphere doesn't transfer well to Crerar (if at all). Bridget mentioned that several former late-night A-Level denziens had not decamped to Crerar, but instead recreated the A-Level experience using house lounges in the dorms. There's been a culture change.

Dan summarized 2 grounds of student dissatisfaction: (1) for better or worse, JRL is the social hub of campus. The move left many students upset because they weren't consulted on a issue that would greatly affect their lives. (2) communication failures meant that most students didn't (and don't?) understand the reasons for the move. Students receive information primarily via email and talking with friends -- and the Library didn't utilize either of these communication channels. Moving the study space over the summer, while convenient for the Library and entering first-years, irritated returning students who did not feel they had any opportunity to influence the decision process.

Library-Student Communication

Email, said many people, is the best way to reach the entire student body -- provided that messages are infrequent (for example, on a quarterly basis).

Many students aren't aware of new Library services and technologies (such as RefWorks) -- perhaps a one-page handout of things "you should know" about the Library?

The Library maintains an online suggestions box and a suggestions blog -- should we also have physical "suggestions boxes" in various libraries?

Other Topics

The next meeting of the Library Student Resource Group will take place on February 16 (this date is tentative). Location TBA.