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Library's First Floor Updated

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September 20, 2005 | by Wendy Leopold

If you haven’t seen them already, be sure to check out the renovations and improvements that were made this summer on the first floor of University Library.

Last fall, University Library and Academic Technologies converted space just inside University Library’s Lantern entrance to create the Information Commons. The space – with more than 50 computer workstations – is designed to encourage student and faculty interaction and discussion. It offers considerable flexibility for both individual and collaborative work, and is staffed by professionals who can help users with digital materials and computer applications.

This summer, the Commons was further enhanced to make it even more conducive to group work. A project or group collaboration room was created in the northeast corner diagonally across from the service desk. Using state-of-the-art technology specially designed to help students work together on course projects and presentations, the room includes two wall-mounted boards that can ‘capture’ written and projected images in digital form and save the content to electronic files.

One of the boards uses camera technology to digitize written work from a regular white board; the other digitizes both written work and images. Seating is flexible and comfortable, arranged around a low table housing power, data and video connections for laptops. Additional laptop connections are located around the room’s perimeter.

David Bishop, Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian, refers to the Commons as a ‘one-stop-shopping’ area where students can learn to locate and manipulate information. “It offers a centrally located, user-centered and technologically rich environment for individual and collaborative work,” adds Laurel Minott, assistant University librarian for public services.

Summer improvements also are evident in the Circulation Department, where two service windows have been consolidated into one and where newly installed computers immediately to the right of the service window permit self-check out of materials.

A new book alcove with a fiction corner and book displays of Northwestern University Press titles and faculty publications has been created at the east end of the corridor across from the escalator. Interlibrary Loan contains a new book drop and a larger service window.

Other first floor renovations include new lighting, carpeting, and architectural elements such as wood paneling and slate tiles serving as visual cues to help library visitors find materials. Wooden entrances, or  “portals,” designate Reference, Periodicals and Newspapers, the stairs to lower-level collections and IT Academic Technologies services; and the north approach to Deering Library.

Topics: University