A new fall term has begun at Western Technical College, and the typical sense of excitement is heightened this year as several building projects near completion.
One of the most highly anticipated is the remodeled library space in the Academic Resource Center. The newly dubbed Learning Commons has transformed the standard library environment into a welcoming study haven.
On her second day of class, second-year student Macy Privet decided to head to the library. What she found, however, was very different from the last time she was here just months ago.
“I walked in for the first time an hour ago,” Privet said. “I was very surprised. It’s completely different.”
The new space has an open concept feel, according to Juan Jimenez, associate dean of general studies at Western. One noticeable difference to those entering the new space is presence of natural light. According to Jimenez, however, the remodeling project did nothing to modify the windows.
“Moving the bookshelves and better furniture placement has really made a difference in the brightness,” he added.
Private study areas have been updated and improved. Full-time academic support staff in health science, math, and communications skills, which were previously in a separate space on campus, are now located in the new Learning Commons. The library collection itself has been condensed to provide more open areas for large groups to meet.
Jimenez says the space is a one-stop-shop of sorts for academic resources.
“What we hope we will achieve is to continue to provide quiet spaces, similar to the old library,” said Jimenez. “But also have a larger area with a coffee shop feel. We don’t want people to feel like they are bothering others by having a conversation.”
For students like Privet, the new space is exactly what they looking for.
“You could tell (the former space) was a little old, but it functioned well,” said Privet. “Walking into it now, it’s definitely more modern and sleek. There are a lot more areas to do different activities.”
Study spaces among higher learning institutions have been evolving over time, according to Jimenez. He and his team spent hours meeting and researching other colleges to determine the best use for the space, including details such as the choice of furniture.
“Libraries have changed,” said Jimenez. “They are more of a community gathering space. They are the heart of the community. We are hoping this space becomes the heart of campus.”
Privet plans to return to the Learning Commons frequently as the fall term progresses. She thinks the new space will help students like herself be more successful in the classroom.
“It’s very peaceful and easy to focus in here,” said Privet. “It’s nice to see the updated space and new options to just sit and relax. It makes being in this place more comfortable and easier to focus on work.”
The Learning Commons is located on the second floor of the Academic Resource Center and is open to the public, however academic tutoring services are reserved for Western students only. Western will host an open house event in October. More details will be provided at a later date.