Students study much differently than they did some 50 odd years ago.
Technology is, of course, a major factor in these changes; but behaviorally, too, says Kathy Irwin, Dean of University Libraries at Central Michigan University. Whereas half a century ago studying was a largely solitary endeavor, today’s students are often studying in groups.
That’s why Central has been changing the layout of the main library on campus, Charles V. Park Library.
After a summer’s worth of construction, they recently debuted 3 East, a collaborative study space on the library’s third floor.
The 3 East space is influenced by another relatively new study space in the library, the Copeland Suite. Each have open floor plans that better allow for meeting in groups. The furniture is rearrangeable. And the furniture is more comfortable, too.
"Learning has become much more of a social experience over the years," Irwin says.
"The library has to reflect and allow for that dynamic. That’s the goal of both suites."
The Copeland and now 3 East are the result of a Park Library Master Plan completed in 2015, with one of the main takeaways being students’ need for more collaborative learning space.
The library listened, transferring rows and rows of magazines and periodicals online to free up approximately 3,000 sq. ft. to create 3 East.
The space features a combination of individual seating and lounge chairs and couches. Unlike furniture found in other parts of the library, these are both padded and movable. There are also plenty of spaces to charge phones, computers, and the like.
"One thing we’ve learned is that students want to be comfortable. They’re often here for a good chunk of time; let’s give them more spaces to get comfy, charge their devices," Irwin says.
She also wants to remind people that Charles V. Park Library is open to the community at large, and not just Central Michigan University students.
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