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Shaking it up: Kennedy Library’s changes for “The Big Shift”

A photo of the Cal Poly mascot, Musty, jumping in the air with two students in front of Kennedy Library.

The longer I work at Kennedy Library, the more I realize that it’s not just a big cement box filled with books and computers and couches. The library is a project, a work-in-progress, constantly growing and expanding and changing as students’ needs change.

That growth is especially obvious in all the construction and movement that’s been happening at Kennedy Library this summer! Books are disappearing, offices are moving from the 2nd floor to the 5th, new study spaces are popping up everywhere. It’s all part of “The Big Shift,” an undertaking that is shuffling around collections, offices, classrooms and collaboration space in an effort to improve library users’ experience.

Teaching, Learning and Technology to the 3rd Floor

It all started with the idea to move the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) from its office on the 2nd floor to a larger space on the 3rd floor. The CTLT, which helps faculty incorporate technology into their teaching, also had a classroom on the 5th floor, but the move will let them have their classroom right next to their new office space,  said Dale Kohler, director of Library Information Technology (LIT) and the brains behind the shift.

In addition, the move is allowing the library to improve its spaces on almost every floor.

Collaboration Stations

For one thing, there will be more room for collaborative studying. The library is purchasing whiteboards that can be connected to create small study rooms on the 3rd floor, and purchasing new, comfy furniture for quieter floors, Dale said. All of it is in response to student requests for a greater variety of places to study.

“One of the things the students would like is more comfortable seating spread over different environments,” said Dale.

In response, the library is using the Big Shift to change up study environments, bring in new tools for collaboration and create more spaces for students to work.

The Classroom of the Fuuuuuutuuuuuure…

Kennedy Library is improving its computer lab spaces as well, with a new, state-of-the-art student lab that seats 30 and allows faculty to take advantage of a flipped instruction model. Students can watch lectures outside of class, then use the computer lab or their own computer, to work as a group on a project with faculty assisting them. It’s a real Learn by Doing idea!

The instructor can control the computers to redirect learning, or students can use the displays to work together.

“There aren’t a whole lot of spaces on campus that support that yet. We’ll be one of the first,” Dale said.

Pulling the Weeds

As part of the improvement process, portions of the library’s collection must be eliminated, or “weeded.” It’s a system of sorting through collections and determining which books are still relevant and important to students, and which are outdated or obsolete.

Publishers are often coming out with newer, timelier editions of books. Simultaneously, the library is moving many of its collections online, where multiple students can use many electronic resources at once, instead of one student checking out the only book in the collection.

“The more relevant we can make the collection the better,” Dale said.

The weeding process is necessary for libraries to stay up-to-date, and should be done every 2-3 years, Dale said. In this case, it’s allowing Kennedy Library to grow, transform, and continue striving to meet the changing needs of students, faculty, staff and the community.