W.E.B Du Bois Library Gets a Makeover – In The Learning Commons

The Umass Library’s Learning Common expansion is in the third-phase of a four-phase plan to increase the capacity of the center. Over 75 people attended last Monday’s celebration of the common’s expansion.

The Commons, which opened in 2005, underwent the $8.5 million expansion starting in 2008. The expansion adds 200 seats, bringing the capacity up from 250 to 450 seats. It also adds 30,000 square feet of space to an area lacking sufficient space to begin with. In total, the facility now contains 200 multipurpose workstations and 400 ports for network and internet access.

Libraries Director Jay Schaffer, Provost James V. Staros and Chancellor Robert C. Holub were among those who spoke. Schaffer has recognized the Learning Common’s space woes are a primary concern and he said the ceremony was important to “let the students know we recognize the facility is not big enough.” Even though the expansion has added more seats, and more connectivity some students are not very thrilled.

Ryan Hammond, 20 of Medway, Mass. said, “It’s not adequate, there are still people waiting.” Hammond mentioned he does not visit the Learning Commons for many reasons, among them was because he does not like working around that many people. He will only use the cubicles there.

Ryan is an engineer, and he prefers the engineering library because there is more space, and more tables. “It’s like a global briefcase,” he chuckled.

Junior Trevor Bullard of Woodsville, New Hampshire is among others who are not very excited by the expansion. Bullard feels like his best work is with one other person or by himself. “I can’t be in Learning Commons because it is too loud,” he said.

He also said that he was not aware of any changes taking effect – he was completely unaware. Trevor laughed as he said, “People love new stuff, they [want to] be the first to use it.” This alone will increase the occupants and users of the space. However, unless there is an area in the Commons, such as the cubicles that is completely sound proof, Trevor refuses to use it.

It may seem as though the older students don’t like the expansions to the library, but there are a few younger students who are ecstatic about the additions to the Learning Commons. Chirag Patel, 19 of Cape Cod, Mass. and originally from India has noticed the improvements. When asked what he thought, “I love it! There’s more space to work.”

Most students complained of noise level, but Patel is not bothered by the noise. He enjoys the reduced wait time and availability of public computers. “Usage will definitely increase,” he said.

Another student, Richie Murray, 20 of Wilmington, Mass. had very mixed reviews, however. Richie said the Learning Commons expansion is a very good tool for education.” He was impressed by the amount of financing Umass provided in order to expand one of the most utilized areas of the library.

One thing he was not happy about was the staff. “They are unapproachable, [expletive] those people. The people who say they’re here to help you really aren’t,” he said. Increased capacity certainly does not matter to Richie if the library staff is not helpful.

The expansion to the Learning Commons definitely produced mixed reactions. While some students were very excited by the changes, others did not seem to care. Simply because of the lack of usage of the Common’s space. Capacity has increased, but noise level is still as loud and that is a huge detriment to its usage by the some students in the campus community

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