photos courtesy ULM Library
Christmas came and went over break for everybody, but ULM students returned with the library’s gift of a newly renovated second floor of the campus’ focal point called the InfoCommons.
The new second floor is a grand remodeling with 60 new computers as well as four additional Macintosh computers coming soon. There are more printers, both new and additional seating, new carpeting for a fresh new look, both group and individual seating arrangements, mobile whiteboards for studying and most importantly, many more outlets for students to plug their electronic devices into.
The tech friendliness is a byproduct of necessary renovations as the library passes into its 20th year of existence in April as well as needed weeding of the library’s collection of books.
“We got rid of over half the collection which was 300,000 titles. There was a legitimate need to purge the collection,” Megan Lowe, the library director and associate professor, said.
Beyond the lack of weeding, some books that came over from the previous library in Sandel Hall needed to be thrown out due to leaking ceilings in Sandel.
“Being that the books stacks were eliminated, it gave us a clean slate for the whole floor,” Chance Eppinette, the director of information technology, said.
The library is the gift that keeps on giving as the renovations are set to be done not only on the second floor.
“The key thing is to step back and see what [students] like [and] what they’re using because we have more money to add to the second floor and also to the first floor and other spaces,” Thomas Hoover, the dean of the library, said.
Through collaboration with the Student Governemtn Association and the Student Technology Assessment Plan committee, the library tried to listen to the needs of the students- one of those being more collaborative space for students. The library is attempting to create this with easily accessible whiteboards all throughout the second floor and plans for many of the areas to have access to screens, so students can work together more effectively.
Quickly, through asking and seeing, it became clear that the library recognized another large need- more outlets and more power for students to charge their devices.
“[Students] really wanted more power. Students wanted more powered furniture. When we started rearranging the space in anticipation of doing a lot of these things, we noticed a lot of students sitting on the floor near the outlets,” Lowe said.
Eppinette said, “It was 20-year-old technology. 20 years ago, we didn’t have USB for devices. That was one of the key things to make it more convenient to plug in your personal devices.”
The technological upgrades are a huge plus for students, and many students are thankful for them.
“It’s life-changing. It’s good to see the college constantly change and continue to change ULM to a more tech-friendly college,” Nate Perdue, a sophomore psychology major, said.
The library, though, is showing that it is not going to wait another 20 years to make technological changes, but will soon add a virtual reality lab for students.
“We’re adding a virtual reality center and innovation space that will be in the bell tower in that back corner. There will be a 3D printer, high-end Macintosh and PCs in there,” Hoover said.
The virtual reality center will be a cross-disciplinary space meant to take ULM and students’ ability to learn into the future.
The center will be the first of its kind in the state of Louisiana.
Students studying geography will be able to experience the Great Wall of China from the library. Anatomy students will be able to experience the body and construction management students will be able to be inside of a building before the building is even made.
The current renovation is just a stepping stone for the library and the university as both journey down this path of making ULM an even more one-of-a-kind institution.