For years Providence College students had been congregating on the lowest floor of the school’s Phillips Memorial Library largely to work on group projects in a less structured – and less quiet – setting than the library’s other rooms.
But the study lounge was drastically outdated, having been kept mostly as it was when the library opened in 1970 and void of any updated technical equipment. The students also weren’t getting the staff assistance and tech support they needed while working there, due to their tendency to study long past the hours of administrative services.
The school’s response is its award-winning TecHub that, according to those running it, is a natural blend of services brought on by the need to best serve students.
“The traditional role of the library is changing and the blurring between academic computing and administrative computing is going away,” said John Sweeney, senior vice president for finance and business at Providence College. “This was a way in which IT and the library could better serve our students in a schedule and place that students felt comfortable working with.”
When Sweeney came to Providence College in the spring of 2010, some of his staff and library staff had been in discussions, through the academic-affairs department, about how they could work more closely together.
By summer the departments had identified the transformation of the library study lounge as the best way to collaborate and move forward to best benefit students, faculty and staff.
The idea was to renovate the bottom floor space, relocate the library help desk there and co-staff it with library and IT personnel, including the library help desk, so that students and other users could receive both research and technical help when needed.
“We decided to build walkways where people walk,” said Russ Bailey, director of the Phillips Memorial Library. “The students and faculty would very often have questions and need help and they wouldn’t know where to go or what to ask or the places they normally would go were closed. That’s how we decided to build it.”
Besides being able to utilize a space already well-regarded as a go-to academic gathering spot, putting the TecHub at the library was the best choice, Bailey said, because the building is open for more hours than any other on campus, from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.