Library stays up to date for users

By Érico Ramírez


The university’s J.E. and L.E. Mabee Library is efficiently keeping up with the changing of times with its recent installments, renovations and updates.

Through various research methods, such as focus groups and last year’s LibQual survey, the library’s staff has effectively heard and evaluated the voice of Incarnate Word’s faculty, staff and students, said Dr. Cheryl Anderson, dean of library services.

The evaluations churned out various recommendations and requests such as quiet study areas, more study carrels, shorter tables, and off-campus access.

Over the years, the archaic and inferred “Shh! No talking!” rule is slowly becoming obsolete to meet the demands of modern students’ study habits. Nowadays, more students prefer to study collaboratively in groups or amongst friends which raises a dilemma to those students who prefer studying in a quiet environment.

Through the LibQual survey, many students requested more areas for quiet study. In response to this, the library converted a large portion of the second level to a restricted “Quiet Zone” which Anderson said is “not a place for talking for collaborating but a place for quiet study.”

Along with the “Quiet Zone,” new single study carrels have been added throughout the library to replace old ones and areas where superfluous bookshelves were located. In addition to this, more areas have been allotted for graduate research on the second floor.

Students also asked to see student artwork. In collaboration with the Art Department’s James Borders and his students, student-created sculptures can be seen displayed around the library’s first floor. In the future, students can expect to see more artwork like this and more gallery systems to display art exhibitions.

Students can easily take notice of the library computers’ updated Microsoft Suite technology but the technology updates on its website can be easily overlooked by anyone. In order to increase off-campus library access, the library switched to a system called Easy Proxy which eliminates badgering software downloads and frustration.

On the library’s homepage, users can notice the recently installed Primo Search bar. Primo Search enables users to easily search the library’s catalogs for books and audio-visual pieces, as well as, the majority of the library’s online databases. This eliminates students and faculty having to search through separate information databases for research and studying.

Not only can students appreciate some of these specialized accommodations, but the library staff is now receiving more working hours in response to the student body’s demand for extended library hours. Although UIW cannot yet meet the extensive 24-hour service of UTSA’s John Peace Library or the midnight service of Trinity University’s Elizabeth Huth Coates Library, the library now operates 92 hours a week.

“There’s an increase in students since they’ve rearranged the whole library,” said senior biology major Valerie Escamilla, a longtime library staff member.

With the 21st-century reign of handheld and mobile technology, the library is currently working on creating a mobile presence for students and faculty to use the library’s resources from his or her hand-held mobile device. This assists commuting students who are unable to access the library’s services from home.

“Eventually [facilities maintenance] got around to us,” Anderson said. “We had intended to do it. We knew what the students’ concerns were. They want to work in a nice environment.”

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