This archived article was written by: Scott Froehlich
A great deal of change has been going on at the Utah State University Eastern campus lately. A statue with a series of the Aggie “A” was installed outside of the BDAC, the Geary Theater construction is wrapping up and a Zen garden is being installed in front of the library. Speaking of the library, it was recently renamed the “Library and Learning Commons” and has seen a significant renovation since Summer 2017. To demonstrate this progress, the LLC held an open house on Nov. 1, which gave people the opportunity to see the changes made up to this point.
The project was overseen by team leader Amy Peters, with library director Lori Brassaw and IT technician Miriam Riding working on the library and commons respectively. In what was initially the brainchild of Vice Chancellor Gary Straquadine, the transition to a multi-faceted-learning center was seen to be a necessary change.
“[He’s the one] that decided we need to update our library, to be a library and learning commons, and then it all kind of snowballed from there,” Riding said.
Brassaw added, “We are evolving, just as everyone else is. To be relevant and vibrant, libraries have to change.”
Riding was tapped upon to design the layout for the first floor of the learning commons. With a background in interior design, she saw this as an opportunity to showcase her skills and see it would be a place that attracted students. To incorporate the concept of a commons, the entire bottom floor of the library was moved upstairs, making room for a space where students can study and socialize.
Adjustable desks were brought in to accommodate students looking for a place to study. These oversized desks have room for two people to work simultaneously, or for one person to study away from the computer. Fifteen new computers were added as well, consisting of a mix of Macs and touchscreen PCs.
One of the highlights of the newly designed building is the new seating. Fifteen modular occasional chairs were brought in to allow a more comfortable, versatile area to sit at.
With three different kinds of chairs, in five different colors, students can rearrange them to meet their needs in groups that they may be working in. In addition to the occasional chairs, a lengthy bar had been placed along the back of the commons. With a spectacular view of the campus, as well as “the pit,” students will not only have a very functioning space to study, but also a great place to let their mind wander.
“It’s a great place to meet and greet, to do some homework, to get to know other students on campus,” Riding said. There is also a section at the front of the commons that has booth seating and a long table which is planned to be a food and beverage place in the future.
While there was no direct input from students regarding the changes made in the LLC, special attention was paid to their tendencies when studying on campus. Riding, who works in the Reeves computer lab, noticed that the students favored the chairs in the Reeves’ lobby over the ones in the computer lab. “I [saw] over time that that is what the students want; they want a comfy chair, and an outlet. [In the LLC] we’ve got outlets everywhere. Even our ottomans have outlets…because everybody has devices,” she said.
Aside from the new furniture, there have also been other additions to the LLC. Many of the offices have been condensed to make room for more study rooms, a production room and printing area have been installed in the building with maker spaces to be implemented in the future. It is worth noting that printing in the LLC is free for students, which is included with their student fees.
Riding also was involved with the repainting of the walls in the building, a subtle touch that made a bigger impact than one might expect. “It matches really well with the fun and funky colors we’ve got going on [in the Commons],” she said.
Also in the works is a reflection room on the library level of the LLC. The highly demanded room will be a place where students can sit quietly to themselves and unwind or just get away from all of the noise or stresses of the outside world.
There are still plenty of changes that will be made to the LLC, with the furniture on the second floor having been the latest upgrade after the open house. Both Brassaw and Riding were both enthusiastic when speaking about the new commons.
“[It’s a] very dynamic situation, we’re trying things out. There’s really no end to what we can do in the commons,” Brassaw said. “It’s a great place to meet and greet, to do some homework, to get to know other students on campus,” Riding added.