Hampshire earns $1.2M to reinvent college library

“I think it’s the most exciting new initiative on campus,” said committee member Laura Wenk, dean of Curriculum and Assessment, associate professor of cognition and education, and codirector of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “The new structure will support the whole work arc of student projects. Conceptualizing, collaborating, publishing, and sharing work—all of that should happen in this new space. This will make student work more visible as they work more and share more in the library, and make connections with other students, faculty, and staff there. It will no doubt affect how students feel about their college experience.”

The Harold F. Johnson Library will offer services in coordination with Information Technology, the Creativity Center, and the following academic support programs: the Writing Center, the Transformative Speaking Program, the Quantitative Resource Center, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Center for Academic Support and Advising. At present these programs serve students independently and from offices across campus.

According to the Steering Committee’s proposal, the library’s transformation promises to measurably increase student satisfaction, success, and retention. King and the other committee members have expressed deep appreciation to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for funding their proposal and validating their vision.

Through its program in Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation assists select colleges, universities, and research institutes in the work of training educators and producing scholarship. A focus of its grant funding is to support initiatives designed to enhance the learning experience of both undergraduate and graduate students in the humanities, and fostering collaborations within and among institutions.

Laura Wenk commends the work of King as the Steering Committee’s chair and of the committee as a whole: “We met with staff at other institutions and they told us they wish they had ways to involve the campus in decisions the way we have, with less bureaucracy and less pressure from the top,” said Wenk. “Our Steering Committee worked with the whole campus to think about how people use the library and the ways in which services could be brought together to meet user needs.

“This project shows what you can accomplish when you conduct the planning in this way,” she said, “listening to and considering the needs of the real users of the space and services.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione