Building blocks, working electrical outlets among popular library initiatives


Harsha Chandupatla / Observer

Two CWRU undergraduates play with Lego building blocks on Kelvin Smith Library’s second floor. The colorful, plastic building blocks have been a hit among students, with several students already requesting the library to add more.

Tanvi Parmar, Staff Reporter

This past week, students normally huddled behind piles of books in Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) got a bit of a blast from the past—they were presented with an opportunity to play with Legos. What started off as an experiment designed to rejuvenate minds and express creativity quickly became a popular and inexpensive way to let students enjoy some time away from their academics.

“Almost as soon as the Legos went out on the first and second floor we had a suggestion in our suggestion box: ‘more Legos!’” noted Arnold Hirshon, associate provost and university librarian.

This program fits well with the mission and vision of KSL: to be an information laboratory that acts as a source of knowledge and provide a creative commons for the university.

“We have been working hard to create an environment that students will find to be warm, inviting and fun and that leaves students with a positive experience as they do their studying and research,” Hirshon said.

With that in mind, KSL staff has been working to make that vision a reality through several key changes this year.

A previous problem at KSL, and a frequent frustration of many students, was that there were many electrical outlets that did not work. KSL staff have done a complete check of the building and have restored or fixed the electrical outlets in the long tables. They are currently working to identify new furniture to replace the round coffee tables that may not presently be operable. KSL continues to encourage students to report inoperable sockets whenever possible so that they can get repaired quickly.

Last year, KSL invited the University Hospital therapy dogs to visit during finals and are planning to do so again this year.

Additionally, there is a discussion with some student groups to possibly provide free snacks and hold other events on different nights at KSL.

However, these plans are not final and Hirshon encourages students to provide the library with feedback on what type of event or services should happen.

This semester, KSL also opened up a new Service Center space that is intended to centralize a lot of student resources such as reserves, equipment checkout and OhioLINK item pickup in a one-stop shop.

Over the last few weeks, KSL introduced a 3D printer and a 3D scanner, monitor and haptic arm to control 3D images before they print in the Freedman Center. On top of that, there are two other Freedman Center changes under development that will hopefully be unveiled before or by next semester.

These changes would be a collaborative work and consultations space with a large screen monitor and the installation of a small video studio in which students can record interviews and other similar projects for their classes.

In addition, KSL has been working with the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) to improve the “CPL@Case-KSL” leisure reading outpost on the first floor. Students are able to get a CPL library card that can be created for them at the KSL Service Center.

Some changes made to the “CPL@Case-KSL” outpost is a new Overdrive station to check out e-books, children’s books, an update to the fiction and non-fiction adult reading selection and magazines, a video display with CPL sponsored lectures, concerts and services, new furniture on the second floor (that encourages student feedback) and three new installations of artist Julian Stanczak’s work for the art gallery before the end of the year.

The last new change is the formation of a new KSL Student Advisory Board that will meet for the first time on Nov. 22. The group will probably meet at least three or four more times during this academic year.

“The purpose of the Board is for the senior administration of the library to hear directly from undergraduate and graduate students about what they do or may not like about the library, and what we can do to ensure that we are providing the best possible services and facilities to meet their needs,” said Hirshon.

More information about KSL’s changes can be found on the KSL Annual report, “A Year of Creating Value,” available on the KSL website.