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Kimbel Library readies for transformation

by Greene

The sounds of drilling, hammering and running of construction machinery fill the air surrounding Kimbel Library and the skeleton of the new Bryan Information Commons at Coastal Carolina University, but that doesn’t seem to disturb Dean of Library Services Barbara Burd.

Like her co-workers on the staff, Burd is enduring the noise and inconvenience because she knows the result will be a higher level of information services for the University. 

The construction noise prompted the library personnel tto introduce a new system that allows students to check out laptops and take them out of the building for the first time. Although a noise suppression system was installed in the library and will be installed in the Bryan Information Commons, construction can still be loud at times. “The new checkout plan allows students to utilize the libraries resources anywhere to avoid the noise,” said Burd.

The Bryan Information Commons, targeted for completion May 2012, will transform Kimbel Library. The new facility will provide seating for 350 in a variety of options. There will be “soft seating” with couches and upholstered chairs, computer stations, a conference room, café seating with the option of private booths or high café tables with stools, and even a “Zen” room equipped with more soft seatubg for a relaxing group session. 

The library staff, along with the student advisory group that helped plan the addition, made it a point to reduce CCU’s carbon footprint by using sustainable materials. According to Burd, the group chose the furniture and other appointments for their environmental friendliness as well as their durability. 

Much of the furniture has a contemporary look, with spirited CCU colors and winsome prints. In the center of the Information Commons will be a soft-seating area dominated by an unconventional couch that zigzags through the room, sure to be a sought-after spot for study. 

“We want to have an edgy, fun look, with serious technology,” says Burd. 

The new Information Commons will not only bring a trendy look to Coastal’s campus, but a completely new wave of technology that has yet to be introduced to the University. This past spring semester, mediascapes were brought into Kimbel Library to be used for group work and presentation practice. The mediascapes look like large television screens that hook up to any laptop and project an image for groups to view. Ten more mediascapes will be added when the new Bryan Information Commons is completed as well as 75 additional computers. Another technological advancement is the addition of Eno Boards, whiteboards that double as projection screens. The boards can also hook up to a computer allowing students to edit their work right on the board and save what they have done. 

Starting this fall, a one-credit library course will be attached to 20 English 101 sections as a pilot class. The course will teach the basics of library resources and train students to produce better English papers. Burd believes the course will give students a firm understanding of library resources, the ability to evaluate the quality of resources, instruction in proper citations and improved research-paper knowledge in general. One-on-one time will also be available for students in the course as well as active learning on the computers. 

The interlibrary loan system will also be upgraded to the new ILLiad system. This is a web-based system that allows users to register online and request books and journals that Kimbel Library does not have. These materials will arrive within hours or days as opposed to the old system that would sometimes take weeks. 

A new support desk will be installed in Kimbel Library to help students in need of technical support. Desk staff will help with anything from blackboard issues to turning in assignments through SafeAssign. A link will be connected to Blackboard so students can send email requests for help and be sure to receive a response from the support staff within 24 hours.

The sound of construction rings through campus as a new building is on the horizon for the University. Burd already has ideas for improvement on Kimbel Library. “My hope is that the Information Commons will be so popular that students will want to see that same kind of look in the library,” said Burd. “But one step at a time; this is stage one and we couldn’t be more excited!”

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