KSU library sees increase in business

Nathan Christofaris

The University Library is busier than it has ever been.

It is averaging about 30,000 patrons a week, said library associate Adam Steele.

Why are more students choosing to use the library now, as opposed to last year?

Mark Pike, assistant dean and building curator for the library, said the math emporium is a key reason for the increase.

“I don’t know the numbers, but I imagine there is probably thousands of students per week more,” Pike said. “When you have that many more kids coming in the door, it’s making a difference. They are infiltrating up. They come in, and they don’t necessarily leave. We have a percentage of them that have decided to stay and study, stay and research, talk to librarians or just meet with friends.”

The renovated fourth floor has also contributed to the growth, Pike said.

“The renovations to the fourth floor, as a big study area that’s sort of warm, friendly and comfortable,” Pike said. “I think that’s inviting, and a number of students have discovered that location.”

Library Dean James Bracken said there has been a significant increase with the use of the library.

“Business is up,” Bracken said. “Since last summer, we’ve added 1,500 more seats in the building.”

Bracken said that the increase has been reflected throughout the library.

“It’s one thing to have people come into the building and use our space,” Bracken said. “It’s another thing to have people come into the building and use our services. Reference questions at the desk on the first floor are up. They’re answering questions that they weren’t getting in the past. More people means more questions.”

The Writing Commons located on the fourth floor provides free writing assistance for students and has seen writing assistance rise, Bracken said.

“The number of consultations for writing assistance in previous semesters was about 1,000 per semester,” Bracken said. “They had just hit 2,000 yesterday. More people, more business, more demands, more fulfillment of what our mission is.”

Bracken said the library is similar to Burger King’s slogan, “Have it your way.”

“We’re trying to provide a diversity of experiences,” Bracken said. “You give them a nice place when they don’t need you, they come back when they do need you.”

What effects does the increase have on the library?

With more students in the library, issues start to arise, Pike said. He referred to them as “growing pains.”

“A lot of that has to do with the cleanliness of the building, and we’re trying to address those issues,” Pike said. “It’s really a double-edged sword. More traffic in the building means that people are identifying and learning about the library services that we offer and using them more. But it also means that they bring in more dust and dirt. There’s more trash associated with the increased attendance, so we have problems that are sort of custodial-related. Overall, it’s a very good thing.”

Bracken agreed that it’s a good problem to have.

“It’s all the cost of doing business,” Bracken said. “I like to think we’re an example of a library doing the right thing to ensure students success and the success of Kent State.”

Bracken said he is very pleased with the state of the library.

“No pain, no gain,” Bracken said. “The alternative is to be ossified — to be obsolete. We are not obsolete, we are demonstrating the integration of the library in the student learning process at Kent State.”

What’s next?

Bracken said the library is buying more electronic content, which leaves a more open space.

“The library in the present is increasingly electronic,” Bracken said. “Of our $5 million acquisitions budget, 72 percent goes to electronic content right now.”

Bracken said most of that is spent on OhioLink databases. The OhioLink networks 88 Ohio college and university libraries with the State Library of Ohio to provide access to books, articles, journals, research databases, e-books, images, videos and sounds.

“Books that people want — we’ll have accessible,” Bracken said. “How many books do you need? We buy 12,000 new books a year. Ten years’ worth of books doesn’t even fill one floor. The library is no longer a storage facility for collections. It’s a learning place for students. It’s where learning happens, not where knowledge sits.”

Pike said the library of the future is yet to be determined.

“It’s one of those things where we see the changes coming,” Pike said. “Content is becoming more and more digital. I can see the libraries of the future having more space. The square footage of the library is the same, but what’s inside is different. It’s really hard to know, we’re all curious.”

Bracken said he is optimistic of the changes at the library, and it’s an exciting time to be a Kent State librarian.

“We’re implementing changes that will hopefully be sustained for the next generation of students,” Bracken said. “If it’s helping students succeed, that’s all we want to do.”

Contact Nathan Christofaris at [email protected].