Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

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June 15, 2012

Library Transformation Continues

By Cindy Carroll

The University Libraries are entering yet another phase of transformation under the leadership of Dean of Libraries Gloriana St. Clair. This summer, major renovations to the first floor of Hunt Library will further define the future of CMU libraries as vibrant collaborative learning environments for students.

"Our student and faculty advisers worked with Campus Design & Facility Development and Lami/Grubb Architects to create a flexible new first floor plan for Hunt Library, within which we are implementing a new service and functionality to support and engage students in new ways," St. Clair said. "We think students will be delighted when they walk in the door this fall."

Only the circulation desk, the Maggie Murph Café, and the Emma Sharp Reading Alcove will look familiar to returning students and faculty in the fall. The majority of the public area will be renovated, creating new spaces for students to study and work individually or together. Renovations are being funded by the libraries with additional support from Provost and Executive Vice President Mark Kamlet.

The collaborative learning environment will be anchored by a new Global Communications Center. The center will combine library reference and one-on-one consultation with communication skills instruction, group work and presentation practice (and technology to support all of these activities) - addressing student and faculty needs to learn and teach effectively in a global and interconnected world.

"From the point of view of reference services, we are excited about the opportunity to partner with the center that is being created on the first floor of Hunt Library. Hunt reference provides outreach and research consultation for the humanities, social sciences and business. Working with the Global Communications Center gives us a new venue for these services. It's a good match for us and will be beneficial for students," said Head of Hunt Reference Jean Alexander.

Two faculty members have been hired in the Dietrich College's English Department to direct the communications center. Director Joanna Wolfe comes from the University of Louisville where she has been a professor of English. Associate Director Diana Awad Scrocco recently received her Ph.D. from Kent State University, where she served as assistant director of the Writing Center.

"The joint reference/communications center meets several student needs with practicality and innovation - very CMU," St. Clair said. "One of the libraries' strategic priorities is to foster scholarly communication in all disciplines, including multiple platforms and approaches for local and global projects. Developing strong communication skills benefits the individual, the university and, ultimately, research and scholarly communication.

"I predict that the lounge areas and informal group study space along the Frew Street side of the library will become first floor 'destinations' for students, just as the café and Emma Sharp Alcove continue to be. With two new technology-enabled rooms that can be reserved for group studies after hours and on weekends, the whole first floor will really belong to students," St. Clair added.

Hunt Library's first floor project is the first of several strategic renovations planned by the University Libraries. The basement of Hunt Library, Sorrells Engineering & Science Library and the Mellon Institute Library are slated to undergo similar student-focused transformations specific to each site in coming years.

The library's print reference collection will be unavailable during construction. Reference librarians are available to assist users and for consultation at the Hunt Library circulation desk. Reference service also continues through phone, email and chat. Hunt first floor reference personnel have moved during construction to temporary offices elsewhere in Hunt, in Baker and in Wean, but their email addresses and phone numbers are unchanged.

Progress on the construction will be posted on the libraries' website as milestones are reached.