Library renewal kicks into high gear

Photo by Tyler Meuter

Later this Fall, the new Library Service Center, which is the result of a collaboration between Tech and Emory, will open. Following the conclusion of this semester, the Crosland Tower portion of Tech’s library complex will be closed for renovations, which are projected to take 18 to 24 months.

The changes come as part of the Library Renewal Project, a plan which has already been implemented to some degree. According to Ameet Doshi, the Director of Service Experience and Program Design for Tech’s Library, the assessment of various metrics over time led to the decision to remove a large amount of the physical book collection from the library complex on campus.

Doshi cited a “dramatic decline” in print check-outs, with more than 80,000 in 2003 dropping to approximately 27,000 in 2014, and he reported that this was some of most compelling evidence that led to the decision to remove most of the physical books from the library complex on campus.

“Ebooks, ejournals, edatabases, those are over a million click- throughs, and we’ve been heavily invested in the electronic library for the past decade,” said Doshi. “We haven’t been investing as much in print just because our users tell us that they want things electronically. It’s a better user experience, in many cases.”

One other motivator for the removal of the books from the Tech campus library complex was the fact that the books do not deal well in an environment where humidity is not constant, according to Doshi.

“As you can tell, anything that has been published earlier than the 20th century is now falling apart,” Doshi said. “The new library service center facility will have climate controls and mechanical systems that are ideal for print collections. It will be very dark, there will be a constant humidity, and [the facility will have] a constant temperature.”

Doshi also noted that, while the new service center where are the books will be housed will be located on Emory’s campus, it is the hope of the Library staff that individual chapters of any print selection will be able to be scanned and made available electronically upon request by a member of the Georgia Tech community. The service center will also feature a reading room as well as a parking lot.

Doshi then discussed the future of the Crosland Tower section of the Library, sometimes referred to as Library East.

“The current condition of the building is brick, it is a place for books,” Doshi said. “Books hate sunlight. But people don’t sunlight.”

According to Doshi, some of the most dramatic changes to Crosland will involve replacing a large majority of the brick walls with glass, which will allow natural light into the workspaces. This will have the added effect of reducing the energy usage of the building from about 121 Kilo British Thermal Units per Square Feet per year (KBTU/SF/YR) to 42 KBTU/SF/YR per the current design.

Renovations to Crosland Tower will also result in almost a 200% increase in the amount of seats available for students. This will allow Tech to rise from the bottom of rankings amongst its peer institutions in regards to the ratio of library seats to student population.

Another feature of the renovation would be a new entrance to the library nearer to the middle of freshman hill. The entrance would lead to a set of wooden steps similar to those seen in the CULC currently. Students could then proceed from there into the rest of the library complex.

As for the redesigned library spaces in the Crosland Tower, Doshi discussed some of the plans for what could materialize following the renovations.

“We are creating more group collaboration spaces,” Doshi said. “[There will be] places for groups to be loud, to be a little messy, and to build things. It won’t be on par with, say, the Invention Studio, but there will be places to get that ideation stage going. There will be whiteboards and perhaps a place to store things, plus group study rooms to accommodate the use.”

Importantly, the student-to-outlet ratio will be higher than that of the CULC, according to Jessica Rose, Communications Officer for Facilities Management at Tech.

The six floors of Crosland will feature a number of facilities which will be open to all members of the Tech community. Included will be individual study spaces and audio and video recording studios and equipment.

The 7th floor, which is currently off-limits for students, will be opened up following its renovations. The current design involves replacing most of the walls of the 7th floor with glass and adding chairs for reading. The meeting room there that currently sees use will be preserved.