The University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries are always searching for ways to improve user experience. This fall, graduate students will have a new space in Memorial Library, dedicated to their unique needs as the Graduate Study Room opens September 21.
Plans to renovate the 3,000 square foot space, located on the fourth floor, began in 2014. With more than 9,000 graduate students at UW-Madison, Memorial Library group study room reservations regularly hover near 85 percent occupancy during the semester. The need for traditional use of library spaces by graduate students, combined with the evolving nature of their work through technology and resource gathering, placed a growing need to create a modern, secure, drop-in, and collaborative workspace to facilitate work not possible elsewhere within Memorial Library.
“For too long our graduate students have been relegated to the famed cages. While those solitary and quiet areas are conducive to some aspects of graduate study, it’s not realistic to think they meet all the needs of our students,” said Ed Van Gemert, Vice Provost for Libraries and University Librarian. “This space is designed to facilitate collaborative work with classmates, encourage cross-disciplinary conversations, and work in an open, yet professional environment.”
With a max seating capacity of 80 people, the room allows for both work in small groups, or solo work. The space offers an open floor plan, individual lighting controls in most work spaces, an abundance of power outlets, reservable space to practice and capture presentations for review, as well as lockers, and display screens with wireless access. The modern layout and furniture are designed to reflect many professional workspaces seen today, while offering a nod to the era in which Memorial Library was built.
The new graduate study room is just one example of the Libraries’ push to repurpose its spaces and reinvigorate the different ways in which the Libraries serve its users. Throughout the renovation process, the Libraries received enthusiastic responses from campus administration, faculty, staff, and students, in favor of creating a space specifically for graduate students.
“A dedicated space for graduate students with workspaces able to accommodate groups of varying sizes, combined with ready access to the rich resources of Memorial Library, and especially the deep subject expertise and reference skills of library personnel, would be crucial to this enterprise,” said Professor Florence C. Hsia, in a letter of support for the project. Hsia works in the Department of History of Science.
“A space in the library for just graduate students would be a great place to work on research, since it would be very conducive to planned and serendipitous collaborative work,” said PhD English Candidate Catherine DeRose, during the planning phase. “A graduate student space would diminish the silo effects department offices have and would instead bring us into contact with one another in a common space.”
Van Gemert said the new space, which he credits former Provost Paul DeLuca and current Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf for championing, will serve as a model for future library renovations around campus.
“This is another example of Libraries creating inspirational, flexible, and sustainable spaces, like we’ve demonstrated with WisCEL, Design Lab, and BioCommons,” said Van Gemert. “We’re here to help build community and provide our users with a variety of valuable resources.”
Access to the new graduate study room will be controlled by a card swipe at its entrance. Authorization will be granted to graduate students who register and will be available any time Memorial Library is open.
Open house opportunities for graduate students to view the new space will take place on:
September 21 and September 22, from 3-5 p.m.
The room officially opens for use on September 21 at 8 a.m.
For more information, visit go.wisc.edu/GradRoom.