With set gone, business class works to rebrand the library

by Dina Kleiner / Beacon Staff • October 23, 2014

A business class is looking to rebrand the area of the Iwasaki Library that was once home to the set of Will & Grace, and now serves as a study space many students find “off-putting,” according to polls conducted by the class.

The Will & Grace set was shipped to Emerson’s Los Angeles campus on Nov. 5  2013 to accommodate for more study space in the library.

Students in Growing the Arts Based Business decided that instead of simply adding more desks and chairs, an entirely new purpose for the area would be more beneficial for the student body, according to senior performing arts major Kelsey Buckley, a member of the class. The library granted permission for the initiative at the beginning of October, Buckley said. 

Buckley said an assignment to make Emerson more useful for interdisciplinary collaboration prompted the project to rebrand the space, not just as a study area, but as a designated room for facilitating creative collaboration between majors.

“We’re trying to — to use a political term — reach across the aisle between all the departments,” Buckley said. “Because we feel like they are isolated at times.”

According to Buckley, the class has been brainstorming possibilities that could turn the basic study environment into a zone for collaborative creativity, including a desktop computer for uploading work, tackboards designated by department and major, and even board games.

Buckley said her class was motivated to repurpose the area after students expressed their dissatisfaction on Post-It notes on the room’s glass wall and in online and paper surveys of approximately 100 students about their opinions of the space. 

Sophomore journalism major Bret Hauff said the study space, with sparse furniture and glass walls, isn’t study-friendly. 

“I never really thought to study there,” Hauff said. “It could use a more comforting environment, not just the white walls that are pretty bland.”

Robert Fleming, the library’s executive director of Emerson’s Iwasaki Library, said a four-hour workshop  in February with students from every academic department and class year pinpointed what students want to see in the former Will & Grace set area.

“[Students] prefer a comfortable and collaborative environment with a variety of spaces,” Fleming said. “Something that has different zones and can adapt to different uses throughout the day.”

Hauff, who is pursuing a marketing minor in addition to his journalism studies, said he would use the collaborative space to help further his education.

“I could see it,” Hauff said. “Working on marketing things as well as journalism things, even trying to combine the two or something of that nature.”

Fleming said that although Emerson does offer study rooms, the space would serve as a distinctly different type of collaborative environment. He said he envisions the area as a walk-in space that wouldn’t have to be booked, unlike closed -off study rooms.

“One group would be working on a marketing project, another group would be working on a performing arts project, and there would be cross-pollination,” Fleming said. “There would be an unintended collaboration between those two groups who were working separately but who overheard something, and found a new way to work together.”

According to Buckley, part of the rebranding project is establishing a name and logo, which are still in development. 

“I think it would benefit us to have a more well-rounded education and be able to collaborate with other people of different majors and different departments,” Buckley said. “Because we’re building up our skills … And you need people of all skill-sets to create a project in any capacity.”