Viewpoint: Library renovation proposals divide campus

The library renovation has been a hot topic on campus the last couple of weeks. For those who haven’t heard, it’s been proposed that the library be renovated to include a number of additions. These additions include condensed shelving, more group study areas, a testing center and potentially a cafe.

The testing center proposal is an intriguing one. As it stands now, there are no testing centers open on Sunday. The library is open on Sunday. That would mean (if you haven’t followed the simple logic) that if the library did have a testing center, they would bring testing availability to Sundays. This would not only add testing to Sundays, but extend the time that professors allow to take the test. That seems like something every student would want.

A cafe being incorporated would add a social element to a now-deserted library. Students need incentives to go study there. In an increasingly connected world, libraries no longer have the monopoly on study space. There needs to be an additional draw, or else it will stand as it does now — mostly vacant.

This vacancy isn’t anyone’s fault. It simply is a byproduct of technological advancement. This library needs to redefine its goals within a modern world. It can’t simply exist to be a giant bookshelf and circulation desk. This library must encourage collaboration and group study, and be the academic heart of campus. By adding more space for group study, a scholastic community will be built and thrive at Weber State.

In addition to expanded group study space, more access to computers and all-inclusive access to specialized software would encourage students to leave their own personal study spaces and gather together. Software like InDesign, Wolfgram Alpha, GarageBand and Finale, and whatever the chemists and physicists use, would drive students to the library to stay, not simply walk in and walk quickly out, avoiding any human interaction.

With all of this said, it’s important to keep the zeitgeist of the library intact. A zeitgeist is the spiritual embodiment of a thing, and for a library, that would mean it should stay a library. It’s not a second union building. It’s not a student services center. While a floor may be dedicated to a cafe and group study, the haunting silence that prevails on the third floor should remain intact. If organizations move to the library (hint: The Signpost and Weber FM), they should have a designated space away from the core of the library.

The libraries on other campuses boast themselves as academic lighthouses for their bereaved and beleaguered student bodies. They seek shelter from the maelstrom that wails around their scholarly career, and the library offers them a beacon, a Baum of academic sanctuary. Weber State has the opportunity to redefine not only its academic culture, but its academic future. This library sends a message to students and faculty, both now and in the future, that we are a force to reckoned with, and that Weber State cannot and will not be consigned to complacency, but will continue to improve and rise to the level of prominence it deserves. That means changing things. We should start with the library.