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Digital revolution inspires library remodel

Digital revolution inspires library remodel

A construction project at Pittsburg State University’s Axe Library is a vivid example of the power of digital media to reshape the world in which we live.

A construction project at Pittsburg State University’s Axe Library is a vivid example of the power of digital media to reshape the world in which we live.

Workers at the library are currently reconfiguring space in the building’s lower level, much of which was previously dedicated to long stacks crowded with magazines and other bound materials. Those materials, now scanned and available to library users as digital files, are gone.  Replacing the tons of paper will be spaces for the scanners and workers involved in the library’s ongoing digitization and technology efforts, and five rooms designed and equipped to meet the needs of students, faculty and others who are learning and creating in new ways.

“What we’re seeing is the impact of technology,” said Randy Roberts, dean of library services. “There is a massive shift from print to digital, whether you’re acquiring information or creating it.”

Roberts said those technological changes go hand-in-hand with changes in the way students, faculty and the community use the library.

“We still have traditional users, but students are increasingly working collaboratively, in groups,” Roberts said. “They’re also more likely to produce video or PowerPoint presentations in addition to the written papers they’ve always done.”

The five new rooms on the lower level of the library are designed for those purposes and more.

“They’re all mediated,” Roberts said. “Some will have audio and visual equipment and one of the rooms will have a green wall for video recording. Students will be able to practice a presentation and play it back or do online interviews.”

Roberts said although the current work illustrates the increasingly rapid move to digital material, the library actually began the shift several years ago, when the periodicals stacks on the first floor were removed and the Writing Center and Student Success Center moved to the library. Today, computer monitors sit where the periodicals stacks once were.

One part of the current project isn’t tied to digital media or learning in the Digital Age. Additional storage space is being created for the University Special Collections and Archives, which contain a wide variety of publications, photographs and other artifacts.

“We had run out of space to properly store our collections and we expect to receive more,” Roberts said, “so this is going to meet a critical need in that area.”

Roberts said additional changes to the library will take place in the coming years.

“The plan is for the whole building to be touched over the next five to six years,” Roberts said.

The current work is expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the fall semester, in August. Paul Stewart, director of facilities planning at PSU, said the cost of the project is about $750,000 and is funded through R&R funds.

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