Academically Illiterate: An Undergraduate’s Perspective into the Library System

November 2nd, 2015

Part One: Group Study Rooms

On every visit to Steenbock library, where I work, my eyes are drawn to the group study rooms. It’s easy to understand why. The rooms are cozy, washed in bright, pastel browns, greens, and crisp whites. Their admittedly small size is religiously devoted to economy of space: a table, several chairs, a large monitor, and, fittingly enough for the life sciences library, a green whiteboard are all placed into a space that would be cramped by a king-sized bed.

Being a thoroughly modern student, I have my number of curiosities regarding the technical aspects of the room. While I would never describe myself as a ‘computer genius’ or even capable of coding with any amount of skill, technology has always been a topic of fascination with me. With these rooms in Steenbock, my curiosity had been piqued, especially given the seeming lack of similar spaces in other UW libraries, so far as I have seen (I love you, Memorial Library, but everyone has their flaws). I did a small search through Steenbock’s website, and discovered the room’s features. So, without further ado, the technical aspects of the rooms are as follows:

Photo Room Computer

Canny readers will notice the screens belong to two different computers. Cannier readers will notice that I’m a masochist, as mine runs Windows 10.

  • Computer with 40” Liquid Crystal Display monitor, with all the software you’ll want, and plenty you didn’t know you would want.
  • Access to wireless printing
  • Additional laptops can be checked out from Steenbock (requiring a WiscCard and another ID)

And in case technology isn’t all that you’re looking for, the whiteboards are a great way to display data, dating back to the 1950s (or 60s. We aren’t too sure). The rooms can easily seat between six and eight students, making them excellent for medium-sized groups. Near the rooms is a well-stocked vending area, which even contains a microwave, to reheat food that cooled two hours ago because you were busy researching the history of the whiteboard. Food and drinks can be brought into the study rooms, provided that they are not messy, and that you clean up after yourself.

Photo Room Whiteboard

Here is a whiteboard in its habitual state—written upon.

It should be noted that reservations for rooms are recommended; that you can only reserve a room for four hours every week; and that if the group is more than fifteen minutes late that they forfeit the reservation. Be here and be dear. To the rooms. We work to keep them in good shape.

So when you want a room that catches your eye, whose technology dazzles you, and is a place to meet and study in a productive environment, then go to Stanford or MIT. But if you don’t want to buy a plane ticket, come to Steenbock. We allow bags that exceed forty-five linear inches.

Photos and text by Alex McKenzie

About the Author: Alex McKenzie is an undergraduate student in the UW-Madison Libraries’ ISIP program, majoring in Environmental Studies and East Asian Studies, and whose own room is not as awesome as the group study ones.

Note from Steenbock Library – you can reserve these study rooms at Steenbock and similar ones at other UW-Madison Library locations via the reservation system.