Students entering MTSU for the first time this summer or fall will find a newly revamped James E. Walker Library with the emphasis on collaborative, technology-friendly learning.
After polling students to learn what they wanted, library officials discovered that, while students still need a quiet environment to focus, they also need places to interact with their fellow students and devices that help make learning easier.
The showpiece of the library renovation is the new first-floor Research Commons, a 21st- century learning space with more than 100 individual and team computer workstations. The computers are equipped with productivity software from Adobe to ZoomText and research databases from ABELL to the Zoological Record.
The Commons includes four banquettes to accommodate groups of up to four people each. Movable, modular tables and chairs let students connect with multiple power outlets for electronic devices. Dry-erase boards and privacy dividers are also movable.
Multiple laptops can be connected to wall-mounted monitors so data files can be transferred with TeamSpot software to a shared laptop for group-created content.
Of course, it isn’t all about the technology. Well-trained technical staff and research librarians are on duty in the Commons to answer any questions.
More group study rooms with computers and whiteboards are now available on all floors. In addition, special first- and second-floor Group Zones have been created, where allowable noise levels have been raised to aid group discussions.
Students may reserve the two second-floor presentation practice rooms online, using the space to rehearse “stand-and-deliver” presentations in front of their classes. Each room is equipped with large wall-mounted monitors and recording devices so students can critique themselves as they hone and refine their work.
Meeting Rooms Two and Four (248 and 446) can accommodate up to 16 and 36 people, respectively. Flexible furniture and movable whiteboard partitions keeps students free to move about as they collaborate. A laptop is available for checkout and can be hooked up with large-screen monitors for presentations.
For those who seek the traditionally comfortable nook for reading or other solitary learning, Quiet Zones have been designated on the third and fourth floors just beyond the elevators. For quiet computer use, the new third-floor Laptop Bar enables students to plug in their personal devices in front of a window overlooking the campus quadrangle.
The Lounge, located on the first floor just past the elevators, offers even more an even more relaxed learning atmosphere for students. This area features soft seating, newspapers, magazines, a collection of New York Times bestsellers and two large television monitors with streaming news.
The James E. Walker Library modernization project was made possible with state-appropriated stimulus money.
For more information, contact Kristen Keene at 615-898-5376.
— Gina K. Logue (Gina.Logue@mtsu.edu)