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 Tuesday, August 25, 2009 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Norlin Library renovations accommodate contemporary learning
by Elizabeth Lock, News Services

New and returning students, back to campus after summer break, will be welcomed to the new 24-hour Norlin Commons in Norlin Library. The space has been open during daytime hours since early July, and will establish its round-the-clock schedule as soon a partitioning wall from the rest of the building is completed.

The Norlin Commons, as well as other building renovations, were designed with the 21st century student in mind, providing the space and tools for a combination of learning methods and environments including isolated study and research, group work, and the use of multimedia technology.

“Students have been clamoring for changes like these,” said Jennifer Knievel, faculty director of research and instruction for the University Libraries. “Before now, the Norlin Library building was not reflective of how universities work, how we teach, and how we learn.”

“Our renovation is in many respects ahead of the game because most of the libraries in academia are like ours." said Jim Williams, dean of libraries. "They were built 70 or more years ago and no longer have people working in them like people used to work in libraries.”

The joint renovation project of the University Libraries and Information Technology Services (ITS) kicked off in the spring of 2008 and includes the Norlin Commons, a new Research Services space, a new graduate student study suite, a refurbished east entrance, improvements to the exterior Sundial Plaza, and a coffee shop. The project is the first overhaul in more than three decades.

“Just in its first day of use, especially the freshmen are taking to it like it’s the natural place to be,” said Susan Anthes, associate director for University Libraries public services.

Featured in the Norlin Commons are six “team tech” rooms, or group study rooms, that can be reserved and are outfitted with Mac mini desktop computers that users can interact with simultaneously using wireless keyboards, mice and a communal LCD monitor. One of the “team tech” rooms offers high definition video conferencing capabilities. The commons area also houses equipment checkout, classrooms for library instruction and events, the Writing Center, a “Bug Busters” center where students can bring their personal computers for troubleshooting and repair, and various seating areas with desks.

In conjunction with Norlin Commons, the newly opened Laughing Goat coffee shop is expected to operate from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. during regular academic sessions and offers an array of coffee, tea, baked goods, soup, salad and sandwiches.

On Norlin’s second floor, the new Research Services space adjoins the historic interior bay window that originally constituted the building’s east exterior wall. The window bays are now lined with brightly colored window seats and cushions, and the area houses reference materials, current periodicals and East Asian collections. The space also offers research consultation rooms for students to work with librarians, additional instruction classrooms, individual computer stations, and dual-boot laptops for checkout that open in either a Mac or Windows operating system, depending on user preference. Photocopy machines and microfilm readers are also located in Research Services.

Construction of the third floor graduate student study suite is also near completion and will serve master and doctoral students with an exclusive area for study and research. The first-come, first-serve carrels or cubicles, located in a card-swipe secured room overlooking Norlin Quad, can be reserved for a half-day increment for the semester. Carrels include a desk, lighting and powered storage lockers so that electronic implements can be safely tucked away and recharged at the same time.

“It is our attempt to create spaces that literally reflect how people work today in solitary, group, and project situations,” said Williams. “We hope that what we have done celebrates the teaching and research that occurs here at CU Boulder."



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