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Working groups looks to involve students in future library plans

February 1, 2019

As a working group contemplates changes to Bowdoin’s libraries, students weighed in this week via a survey.

“The last time H-L was renovated was 2003,” said Director of the Library Marjorie Hassen said. “As we know, things are no longer done as they were in 2003. We want the library to be a modern, useful space.”

Students answered questions about topics ranging from use of physical space to whether students thought the libraries needed standing desks, more comfortable seating and tables conducive to collaborative work. The survey also covered resources, including online databases and physical collections, and asked students whether they thought a café would improve the working environment.

The survey was distributed by the Future of Libraries at Bowdoin Working Group, which was charged by President Clayton Rose, and began meeting in fall 2018.

The group aims to gain a better understanding of what students would like to see in libraries across campus and of what constitutes a Bowdoin student’s ideal library.

Bowdoin’s library system already spans four buildings: Hawthorne-Longfellow Library (H-L), Hatch Science Library, Pierce Art Library and Beckwith Music Library. Hassen emphasized that the group’s intention is to envision a library system capable of fostering the best possible academic success.

Along with distributing the survey, members of the Future of Libraries at Bowdoin Working Group have spoken to students studying in H-L at various times during the day to receive input and have formed focus groups.

Furthermore, the group has held open forums for faculty to speak about how libraries at Bowdoin can best meet their needs and the needs of their students. Faculty members received a survey similar to the student version.

The changes, however, many not happen during current students’ tenure. The current purpose of the group and the survey is to begin a conversation about what libraries on campus should look like in the next decade.

“Renovations and things of that nature take time and planning,” Hassen said. “President [Clayton] Rose wanted to form the group well ahead of time.”

Hassen explained that, for now, library plans are conceptual—students still have a chance to impact the trajectory of library changes. Interested students are encouraged to provide their email when prompted at the end of the survey to participate in the dialogue.

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