‘When you walk into the library, you won’t see books’

 

Redesigned facility will support information literacy, collaborative learning

The three-story wall of bricks, which featured a stylized “ICU” brick pattern in tribute to the University’s original name of Indiana Central University, will give way to glass, as depicted in this architect’s rendering, to allow views of Smith Mall. Krannert Memorial Library is named for Herman C. Krannert, the late industrialist and philanthropist whose Krannert Charitable Trust provided crucial funding for its construction.

The three-story wall of bricks, which featured a stylized “ICU” brick pattern in tribute to the University’s original name of Indiana Central University, will give way to glass, as depicted in this architect’s rendering, to allow views of Smith Mall. Krannert Memorial Library is named for Herman C. Krannert, the late industrialist and philanthropist whose Krannert Charitable Trust provided crucial funding for its construction.

“The old model is gone,” says Matthew Shaw, director of Krannert Memorial Library, which is undergoing a major renovation this summer as part of UIndy’s five-year, $50-million strategic improvement plan. “When you walk into the libary, you won’t see books. Our focus is building, maintaining, and expanding digital collections. It’s finding ways to help students understand library systems, databases, and technologies to access those collections.”

While generations of students searched old-school card catalogs to find specific books, scholarly journals, and periodicals for class assignments and research papers, point-and-click technology now enables them to access Web-based resources instantly from smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Thanks to cloud-based platforms like Google Books and Google Scholar, more and more apps are available to locate virtually any type of information. An explosion of new technology—combined with unprecedented ease of access—has forever changed higher education. Everything about the way students learn, and the way faculty teach, is evolving.

Students learn differently now

UIndy is keeping pace with such change with a $5.5-million library renovation this summer. The nearly 40-year-old Krannert Memorial Library has served the campus well for decades. But it is undergoing major upgrades prior to the 2015–16 academic year. When the Class of 2019 arrives this fall, they will discover a revitalized campus landmark. At the time of its opening in 1977, the library housed primarily print-based collections and resources. Today, print materials are still important, but the need to physically store thousands of volumes has diminished exponentially, explains Shaw. Librarians no longer serve as the gatekeepers to information. Technology has democratized individual and collective access to vast stores of information. “Students need and expect online search tools for scholarly information from on and off campus,” Shaw says. “So helping them quickly find what they need is still our core purpose.”

Reimagined for maximum functionality and flexibility by Ratio Architects, with construction overseen by F. A. Wilhelm Construction Co., the design satisfies two key objectives: (1) create a facility that supports information literacy training and instruction, and (2) repurpose and enhance existing space for greater collaborative teaching and learning. Why the emphasis on collaboration? Research shows teaching and learning outcomes improve when students work together on project-based assignments. And students already had been striving to do just that in the existing library, improvising furniture configurations and overcoming a limited number of electrical outlets in order to collaborate. Also, future employers want tech-savvy graduates who can function effectively in teams to solve problems, deliver services, and innovate.

Check it out

The library will be a digitally connected, socially integrated place to learn and grow. Among the most visible changes:

—A three-story wall of glass on the east overlooking Smith Mall. This stunning design element will open multiple library levels to the campus center.

—A 24-hour study lab that will take advantage of the new view. The Writing Lab will relocate from the second to the first floor with a modern, welcoming storefront entrance.

—The upgraded main entrance leading to an open-design reference counter for staff interaction with clients. Staff will provide more personal assistance, such as arranging one-on-one consultations with information specialists.

—An improved network with more reliable and consistent wireless connections. Collaboration areas will feature large flat screens connected to the Internet. More robust workstations will take students from initial queries to completed projects.

—Flexible room configurations to enable individuals and groups to create custom environments. Tables and chairs can be moved easily. (Alumni will be glad to know that the library’s iconic “egg chairs” will be refreshed, and new ones will be added.)

—Ample electrical outlets in floors, walls, and furniture to power and recharge multiple mobile devices. “Anyone who has navigated, with Olympian agility, the crisscross of electrical cords charging laptops, tablets, and smart phones,” Shaw says, “will appreciate the value of achieving access to power throughout the library.”

—A faculty design studio offering dedicated tools and technologies to build curricula and courses around Web-based content.

—A second-floor instructional area enabling staff to teach groups of students to make full use of resources, including workshops on effective search techniques, the latest course software, and public access catalogs.

—A ground floor café, with a casual coffeehouse vibe, offering food and beverages, providing comfortable seating, and including plenty of tables for laptops. A landscaped outdoor plaza with seating will be added.

Flexibility is the key

The library was built in 1977, during the tenure of President Emeritus Gene E. Sease (standing), who joined President Robert L. Manuel at the May “Wallbreaking” ceremony to kick off renovations. One of the library’s iconic “egg chairs” served as a photo booth for the campus community to commemorate the event. The library renovation project will be complete in time for classes this fall.

The library was built in 1977, during the tenure of President Emeritus Gene E. Sease (standing), who joined President Robert L. Manuel at the May “Wallbreaking” ceremony to kick off renovations. One of the library’s iconic “egg chairs” served as a photo booth for the campus community to commemorate the event. The library renovation project will be complete in time for classes this fall.

“The new, open design will offer successive generations maximum flexibility in repurposing space for future needs that we can only guess at,” Shaw says. KML’s lower levels will facilitate collaboration and social interaction. Group study rooms will include flat-screen monitors for data display, enabling students to share information and work cooperatively on projects and   presentations. An instructional lab will provide space for interactive library instruction sessions where librarians will introduce students to a wide array of scholarly and research resources. The third floor will offer quiet areas for solo study and research. It will also house the stacks and archives, which contain more than 130,000 print volumes and rare books, along with the University’s archive and Institute for Civic Leadership & Mayoral Archives’ city government records.

UIndy will continue to serve local residents as well, including community patrons who visit to read periodicals in its quiet environment, use dedicated public computers, borrow materials, and apply for library cards. “We’re considering opportunities for expanded public services and programming, possibly through synergies with the city’s library system,” Shaw adds. Dr. Deborah Balogh, Provost and Executive Vice President, says the dedication on Homecoming, October 3, “will celebrate a new library, transformed from a place that warehouses knowledge to a dynamic learning laboratory where knowledge is both preserved and discovered.” President Rob Manuel points out that, however high-tech, the refurbished library will help the University do what it’s always done, only better. “Flexibility and collaboration among students and faculty—that’s just who we are,” he says, “and who we’ve always been.”