Gleeson Library often resembles a crowded auditorium. Finding a chair or a quiet spot can be challenging, especially during finals week. “If you’ve been by the library in the past few years, you have most likely gotten a sense of how incredibly busy we are,” University Library Dean Tyrone Cannon explained. “The library is the heart of nearly every academic institution and USF is no different.” To combat its overcrowding problem, Gleeson Library underwent a three-month long renovation over the summer.
Discussions for library renovations started in fall 2016 with the goal of increasing the number of collaborative study spaces. Cannon describes how “the university relocated about five miles of print resources — journals — to storage.” This amounted to roughly 110,000 bound items. These printed items will be delivered to the library upon request by students and faculty.
With all this new space, there are now two new classroom on the second floor, 17 new group study rooms and multiple new open seating areas. In addition to an increase in study space, a number of academic centers relocated to Gleeson including the Learning, Writing and Speaking Centers. The ITS Help Desk, which was previously in the rear of the first floor of the library, will now be at the front lobby.
One of these new classrooms is an “Adaptive Learning Classroom.” The area “was inspired by the work of USF faculty and instructional experts to be a new type of learning space for teaching and learning. The new classroom affords faculty to quickly reconfigure the space, use technology and engage students in ways no other classroom at USF currently does,” explained Cannon.
Cannon was unable to offer an estimate for the final cost of the project, since parts of the renovation are not yet complete.
Accompanying many of these spaces is a push to incorporate new technology. “We had to prepare new computers [and] software” said Chris Monge, a client support specialist at ITS. Within each new group study room, there are either LCD monitors or projectors, as well as Apple TV devices to facilitate collaborative learning. There will also be new laptops for students to check out, while the exact number of personal computers is still to be determined. There has also been work to increase internet speed throughout the library.
While the physical renovations were completed swiftly over the summer, Monge describes the significant challenges when it came to updating Gleeson’s spaces. The library “was developed in part with a lot of different departments. Facilities, the Board of Trustees, IT project managers.” Monge sometimes found it difficult to coordinate his technology expertise with other members of the renovation. “Where it got really hard—and they don’t really teach you this if you are a computer science major or a politics major—is how to communicate effectively.” Despite the challenges, Monge remarked positively when referring to those who helped renovate over the summer. He stated USF facilities and others “should be proud of the fact that students are gonna study [at Gleeson].”
Gleeson Library is just the start of many renovation projects. “Another thing that we’re going to be working on is continuing renovations of Harney,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Don Heller. The University plans to make better use of the science building’s laboratories. In addition, more classroom space is being planned, which would require constructing “a new building on campus or acquiring a nearby existing building and renovating it for academic use.” While Provost Heller noted there is not a definite timeline for these projects, he said it will most likely occur “sometime in the next three to five years” and “will depend upon when we can raise the money.”
Photo: Christina Veziris/ Foghorn