Library upgrades encourage collaboration, innovation

The library's new innovation lab promotes collaboration and creative thinking for students working on group projects or research.

The library's new innovation lab promotes collaboration and creative thinking for students working on group projects or research.

The library on Troy University’s Troy Campus has recently undergone major renovations this fall, both on the technological and practical side.

Dr. Chris Shaffer, dean of library services, wanted to see upgrades for students in all areas: access to information, comfort and overall library experience.

“This is a constant battle in the library,” he said. “You’re always trying to balance the needs of stuff versus the needs of humans.”

The new Launch Your Mind Lab, or LYMLab, located upstairs in Room 307, includes five collaborative stations with multiple laptop attachments to a single, large computer screen; projectors; whiteboards and exercise balls. According to Troy University’s IT website, “The lab [houses] over $50,000 worth of technology donated by Troy University’s technology partners. Current partners include Howard Technology, Epson, Kyser Furniture, Okidata, Lenovo, AxisTV, Spectrum, Crestron, and Dalite.” Students can visit IT’s site to reserve a station or “pod.”

The upgrades include additional study rooms, including two upstairs with whiteboard paint on the walls, encouraging collaboration and brainstorming.

“We’ve gone from two study rooms to six,” Shaffer said. “We’ll open up another two by Christmas.”

Shaffer also wanted to establish a more open, inviting area for students, including more seating and improved furniture.

“We’ve added a lot of new ‘soft seating,’ but one of the things that’s made the biggest difference in this place is getting rid of some of the shelving,” he said.

Examples of the new "soft seating" installed in the library this fall.
Examples of the new “soft seating” installed in the library this fall.

Shelving on both floors has been consolidated or rearranged entirely as more resources become available online. Shaffer plans to have the government documents section on the first floor completely relocated to an online database called ProQuest Congressional.

“It’s got all the government documents you could ever want on there, and you can find them easily,” he said.

Before renovations began, the library had 38 total computers for student use, with only three of those having Microsoft Office. With this new layout, Shaffer was able to add 30 more computers all equipped with Office.

Other seating improvements combine technology and comfort. Located to the right of the entrance and in the back room, “pods chairs,” individualized study areas, and high top tables are equipped with electrical outlets for phones and laptops. New couches, coffee tables and a book scanner that allows students to scan books and convert them to PDF, JPEG and other formats are also located in the back right room.

A study "pod" inside the Troy Campus library.
A study “pod” inside the Troy Campus library.

Shaffer said it takes time before students start to notice a change, but they are already speaking positively of the improvements.

“I think it’s an awesome place for students to get information for all of their research papers because it’s so efficient,” said Conleigh Gilmore, a senior broadcast journalism major from Troy. “The amount of information accessible in one room is infinite. I hope that students will use the addition to their advantage.”

According to Shaffer, the increase in the amount of students is already evident.

“From 2014 to 2015, we had 40,000 more visits,” he said. Even with IMPACT classes being held at other locations, the numbers are “still breaking even with last year’s figures.”