What do College Library and the classic Hollywood film Casablanca have in common? Like Humphrey Bogart’s establishment in the movie, Rick’s Place, it seems that everyone eventually comes to College Library. With over a million individual visits last year, the undergraduate library is a favorite destination on the UW-Madison campus. Indeed, it’s this high volume of traffic that has made the library so attractive to a number of student services and helped shape the renovation of the first floor center in 2009.
The remodeling committee began their work over three years ago, assessing the space and monitoring patron use. It soon became apparent that the first floor of the library served a number of purposes, some people popped in to quickly print their assignments, while others waited up to thirty minutes to meet friends or study partners. Some patrons hunkered down at computers, never realizing that a full-service InfoLab was located one floor above. The committee decided that the library was best served by emphasizing the “transitory” nature of this space. Nine stand-up computer kiosks that facilitate express printing and quick email checks were installed throughout the first floor. For those students waiting for friends, a corner of the space was turned into a “living room” of sorts. This area also features new books and a suggestion board for students to browse while they wait.
Although a number of new features were incorporated into the renovation, the first floor continues to serve as the main service point for the library. By combining the Information and Check-out desks, the library created one central place for patrons to go for assistance and to circulate items. The reserves collection also continues to be a focal point of the first floor center with hundreds of instructors placing high-use items on reserve for their classes.
The reference collection, which had undergone an extensive down-sizing five years previously, was again ruthlessly weeded until it is now a lean, mean, collection of the most valuable and useful items. This left some space available and knowing that College Library offered high volume traffic, a number of offices on campus decided to join the library in creating a newly envisioned “Student Services Area.” Although College Library had long partnered with GUTS, the 1st floor remodeling provided the opportunity to create a more formal space with distinctive boundaries (instead of temporary modular walls). By the time the renovation was underway, the committee decided to create three distinct spaces that could be reserved by a variety of campus services.
In addition to GUTS, which offers tutoring services five nights per week, the Writing Center opted to establish a satellite location which they staff from 7-10 p.m. several nights per week during the academic year. Cross College Advising Service will be offering regular evening drop-in service as part of an expansion funded by the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates. The Center for the First Year Experience has taken advantage of the space to hold listening sessions with freshmen, and the Morgridge Center is exploring possible use of the space to promote volunteer opportunities in the coming year. During the summer months, this space is being used by the Summer Collegiate Experience to help prepare students for college. In addition to the partners who established regular hours, the space has become increasing popular for one-time events, including bone-marrow registration, software demos by DoIT, department advising, etc.
With the success of these partnerships, College Library hopes to continue building relationships with other campus entities and continue in our mission to provide meaningful service to the undergraduate population on campus. To borrow a quote from Casablanca, it “looks to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship” or two.