Changes made to library

by Angelica LaVine / Beacon Correspondent • October 10, 2013

To provide more space for students to study and organizations to host events, the Iwasaki Library was restructured this semester, said Robert Fleming, executive director of the library. Changes include a consolidation and relocation of print collections, additional study desks, a new consultation room, and redesigned pillars.

Fleming said the total cost of the renovations was approximately $80,000, which consisted of $50,000 for new furniture and $30,000 for labor and infrastructure like electrical wiring, carpeting, and removal of shelving.

According to Fleming, the library staff was able to create more space by relocating print collections — like scholarly journals — from the center of the library’s main room to the right side of the space. Now, study tables and armchairs stand in their place.

The DVD and screenplay collections, which, according to Fleming, are the two most popular ones, have been combined with the print collections so they are more accessible. Fleming said this new location provides more room for these collections to grow larger over the years. 

The current issues of the library’s print periodical subscriptions are now shelved with bound periodical backfiles from 2006 or later, which are located to the right of the computers near the library’s entrance, according to Fleming. All bound periodical backfiles from 2005 or earlier are now shelved in the library’s sub-basement compact storage room, said Fleming.

Also, display shelving was taken down in the quiet study area of the library to allow space for more tables. The copying machines have been moved out of their former location and into the quiet study area. This move allowed for the room where the copying machines were previously stationed to be transformed into a conference room with a long table and chairs inside. According to Fleming, the room is now a consultation office meant for faculty and library staff meetings, but may serve as a study space when not in use.

Overall, these changes added 43 new study seats, said Fleming.

Erinn Pascal, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, said she spends most of her time outside of class in the library. She said she believes the changes are important because they help the library attract more off-campus students and allow more students to meet and interact.

“Now that there is more seating, it really encourages off-campus students to come and spend time here, because it is a guaranteed place they can go,” said Pascal, who lives in Allston.

Other modifications were made to help the library become more student-friendly, said Fleming. Electrical outlets were installed onto six of the study tables in the main room of the library, so students don’t have to share plugs on the wall. But Katie Minard, a senior marketing communication major, said that despite this addition, she is still having a hard time finding a place to charge her laptop while studying during certain times of the school day, typically between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.

“It still took me a half an hour just to find a place to sit where there was an outlet,” she said.

Fleming said he hoped the changes made to the library would give student organizations more space to hold events. Space for photography displays, which are currently showcasing the work of Peter Paradise, a staff member in Emerson’s IT department, was designed for this very purpose. Fleming said he hopes to invite student organizations, such as Developed Images, to display their photographs on the library walls in the upcoming months.

Three pillars in the center of the main room were painted with chalkboard paint, with the left pillar meant to be an advertisement space for student organizations to publicize upcoming events. The center pillar serves as a signpost for the reserves and for the printers, which Fleming says are the two most common locations asked for by students. The right pillar is meant to be a free communication board for student ideas and interests, and currently houses polls about books read over the summer and candidates for student government association elections.

According to Fleming, chalk is kept at the library staff desks so that members of the Emerson community can write on the pillars at any time.

“We figured we should let the students communicate, because after all, this is a communication school,” said Fleming.

However, two swastikas were found drawn on one pillar two weeks ago. Fleming said if more graffiti appears, the chalkboard paint may be removed.