Faculty Senate debates proposed library transformation, finds a service solution

A disagreement between seating space and book space in Mary Couts Burnett Library surfaced at the Faculty Senate meeting on Thursday.

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A disagreement between seating space and book space in Mary Couts Burnett Library surfaced at the Faculty Senate meeting on Thursday. 

Jean Koelker, dean of the library, presented a PowerPoint to Senate members outlining the future transformation of the library, called The Library of Tomorrow.

Koelker said at least one million of the 1.4 million books in the library will be taken out to provide more seating for students.

“One of the biggest problems with the library is that it is out of book space," Koelker said. "To make room for books, we have to make less and less seating and that isn’t working."

In fact, Koelker said that the seating in the library only accounts for 10 percent of the students at the university.

“With this transformation, the library is favoring seating over books,” she said. “These students are paying private school tuition and there isn't even a seat for them in the library.”

To make up for the books taken off the shelves, Koelker said the library is creating a virtual system for online books.

Paul Schrodt, a professor in the College of Communication, admired the library for trying to think digitally, but argued that an online system won’t be enough for students on campus who prefer reading something in hand.

“We have 1.4 million books and you are taking away one million of them? The library is becoming more of a student study center than an actual library,” Schrodt said.

Koelker also said that the steps in front of the library will be taken out and office spaces will be created for meetings and research.

The construction will begin in mid-December and will continue until August 2013.

Gloria Solomon, chair of the Tenure, Promotion and Grievance Committee, also introduced a resolution on service that was brought up at the last meeting.

Last month, Solomon presented survey findings on the evaluation of university service. Many faculty members felt the service expectations at the university were unclear and many agreed that flexibility should be considered in weighing responsibility.

Following committee recommendations, Solomon presented her final resolution to the Senate members.

With a few changes to the original proposition, the resolution was unanimously accepted.

The final resolution stated that “Faculty Senate recommends that Colleges and Departments generate written, unambiguous policies on service expectations for all ranks that will aid in the evaluation of all full-time faculty.”

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be in January.

 

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