This is true of all the student buildings on campus, save one: the library. Lisa Hartz, library staff, notes the last time the library staff, notes the last time the library was closed outside of normal hours, prior to Hurricane Sandy, was when tropical storm Lee hit back on Sept. 8.
Shannon Richie, reference librarian, recalls this past summer was the “most active” he has seen during his time on campus. Ron Harmon, library staff, echoes this sentiment saying this past summer was “busy” because library staff was trying to finish the biggest organizational project since the campus was founded in 1934.
“We’ve always moved from a smaller space to a larger one… we didn’t have to weed things out,” Harmon said.
The current library was opened in 1972, when the library moved there from the administration building. Val Lynn, head librarian, notes the physical collection had grown to 100,000 books, of which 26,000 were weeded over the summer.
About 2,000 books went to a book program that gives them to impoverished, and the remaining 26,000 were collected by a recycling company in town. Lynn said this company came and got the books.
“We didn’t have to separate the covers and slice the bindings. We only had to group them by type of book like hardcover or paperback. These books were then recycled. Any title that was deleted can be found through the library’s growing collection of eBooks or at another campus library,” Lynn said.
Richie explains the rationale behind the selection of the 26,000 books was systematic so as to prepare for the space needed for the Knowledge Commons. Of the criteria used to select books to weed out, one was books that had sat on the shelf for a decade and not checked out. Lynn stresses that the issue was one of currency.
“We want student to have the most updated information for their courses here… which drive the size and scope of collections,” Lynn added.
It makes sense then, that faculty voices were important in the shaping of the changes at the library. Richie says that faculty reviewed their respective disciplines.
“When we didn’t have a specialist, we looked at those areas,” Richie said.
Richie recalls one such specialist was Asian Studies and Literature. Lynn said some faculty reviewed list of as many as 4,000 books and made recommendations for additions and changes.
Because Penn State is student centered, the students’ wishes were taken into consideration as central to this project.
The weeding project allowed their desires for more natural light, and more study spaces to be met.
The Knowledge Commons, the name for the updated project the library is working towards, stresses integration of computer work, technology and traditional library services.
Harmon says the library is really responsive to student needs. He says any of the 13,188 visitors to the library in October can do anything they want or need to do from using computers to consulting with library workers.
The Knowledge Commons will further this usability by incorporating more computerization, more interaction in small groups, which will be aided by collaborative work spaces according to Richie.
Upon investigation, the efforts put forth on campus were just that: campus-wide efforts, with involvement from library staff, faculty, administration, and campus staff.
Lynn recalls maintenance helped to move books and shelving and were really supportive throughout the entire process.
Lynn added the whole project came together very well.
It was serendipitous that the space needed for the Knowledge Commons was exactly the space that was cleared in the weeding project though that was not their goal from the outset, focusing instead on student needs and issues of currency.
No matter what the future holds for the library, students can be sure there will be no coral bathrooms and bright orange walls as there were 10 years ago.
For Penn Stat Hazleton, at least, the image of a dry, boring library couldn’t be farther from the truth.