by Ben Ryan
Since the beginning of the year, students of Springfield College have found themselves searching for books in unfamiliar places. For 45 years the Babson Library has been cemented into the grounds and overlooking the campus of Springfield College, but starting next fall, it’ll be transformed into the Learning Commons.
With new windows replacing the original dark glass, a new 24-hour reading room and technology services installed, the entire library is getting a complete makeover. The Learning Commons will now have 100 percent focus on the students–building around their interests.
The Learning Commons will provide academic support for students outside of the classroom. The intentions are that it will bring a distraction-free environment to the campus by putting technology help centers, academic technology and media services in the same building.
“What we’re trying to do is acknowledge that students in the 21st century are learning very differently and that we need to provide the support for them,” Andrea Taupier, the director of Babson Library said.
Taupier has heard several complaints about Babson Library for the past few years. Many complaints circled around not having group study rooms, 24-hour study space, all gender bathrooms and even getting rid of the stairs. Babson Library needed an upgrade from its outdated structure.
“It’s going to feel like it’s supposed to belong to the rest of the campus. We’re not getting rid of the road, but there’s talk of having a speed table so people can cross the road a little more effectively than they do,” Taupier said. “The important thing to know is that [all of the changes are] based off student needs and student requests.”
There will also be a new flexible space called the forum, where students or guests can have poetry readings or lectures. Taupier mentioned how the forum will be more up-to-date on technology with many streaming devices.
“We’re trying to design a space that will not only work for now, but will work 10-15 years in the future,” Taupier said.
Along with the new improvements on the inside, from the outside, students will no longer enter into the second level. Starting in the fall, the Learning Commons will have an entrance strictly for the first level. Students will make their way from there.
“It will be completely differently from what it is now. The biggest change you’ll see is that you’ll no longer enter through the second floor, you’ll be entering through the lower level and the big stairs in the front will go away,” Project Manager for Facilities, Jennifer Vigneault said. “Every floor will be completely different. It’s not your traditional library setup with stacks of books everywhere; it’ll be a far more technology-rich environment.”
Vigneault has been part of the project since the idea was first brought up along with working with a design team and drawing up exactly what they wanted to have the Learning Commons look like. With one of the main centers of attention on campus being the Flynn Union, Vigneault believes that the Learning Commons will only make Springfield College an even better learning environment.
“This will be an expansion of the services offered here on campus. I don’t think it’ll take anything away from the Union or replace it. I think it’s bringing a new center of focus more geared toward the collaboration and learning process here rather than just grabbing a snack and coffee,” Vigneault said.
An extremely fancy building such as the Learning Commons doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It has to be paid for and carefully thought out to build. Taupier cited Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations John White’s projection that the building would cost between $18-20 million.
The renovations will be paid for in three ways: from donations, refinancing of the bonds and some upgrading costs.????
“I’m happy they’re finally renovating it because it’s been long overdue. From what it looks like, it’ll be state of the art so hopefully it gives us more benefits as a student to study,” Kevin Wall said.
Wall, a third-year student at Springfield College, will only have one year to take in everything the Learning Commons will have to offer, but one year is better than none at all. Wall also works with media services and will find himself enjoying it much more than he thinks.
“I just want it to be done because right now it’s been such an eye-sore!” Wall said with laughter.
Since the Learning Commons is in the process of renovation, any information that could be found in the Babson Library had to be transferred over to a new location. Facilities on campus moved just about all library services into Judd, which includes the information desk, the TSC desk, study space, computers and printers that are available from 10a.m. to 5p.m. On top of that, there is a quiet study space in the Townhouse basement.
“It was a lot of coordination. We had to consider multiple departments and multiple things that were living in the library – that had to be moved out of the library to make this transformation happen,” Vigneault said about locating to Judd. “It was a matter of finding spaces around campus and coordinating with all different departments to make sure that it worked for everyone.”
Considering the construction takes up a large portion of the sidewalk and a parking lot, students and faculty have had to find other ways to get around campus.
“It was a very aggressive timetable. We spent much of July and August moving out., which is 57,000 square feet, three moving trucks, 13 professional movers, four and a half days and that didn’t count the books. That was another week and a half,” Taupier said.
At times the construction can be inconvenient, but in the long run and a short span of a few months, the Learning Commons will bring a new light upon Springfield College.