Library classes offer more than just notes

Tiffany Ciesicki

Professor Molly Lindner recalls looking up while speaking one day to find many of her students were no longer sitting in front of her.

At first, she worried they had all left. After a moment, she realized they had all gotten up to search through the books. She had accomplished what she set out to do.

Lindner, who teaches art history at Kent State’s Stark Campus and occasionally teaches a course at the Kent campus, began taking her Images of Roman Women in Art and Literature class to the sixth floor in the library last year.

She wanted her students to step outside the lecture room and wanted the opportunity to really interact with her class.

She also wanted to teach her students that the Internet is not the only resource available to them.

“I wanted to have them sit in a space where the print collection was easily accessible, where they would become familiar with it as an important resource,” she said.

Lindner wanted her students to learn to explore the library naturally rather than through an artificial exercise.

“I wanted to teach them to value browsing,” she said. “That is a skill I think every student should cultivate. Books have a way of just popping off the shelf when you are cruising through the stacks.”

She said when she first began taking her students to the library they completely ignored the print stacks.

“It took a few weeks for them to abandon searching the Net,” she said, “but eventually they did.”

Lindner said the sixth floor became her classroom in a sense. She spent more time there than in her actual classroom.

“It worked so well with what we did and really fostered independent thinking,” she said.

Lindner’s experience was an inspiration that sparked the idea of a collaborative learning space in the library.

Earlier this semester, the sixth floor of the library was made into an interactive classroom.

The appearance of the space was updated and new furniture was brought in. Tables and chairs with wheels were set up to encourage group work and cooperative studying.

“We wanted to create a more attractive and usable study space,” said Barbara Schloman, associate dean of libraries and media services. “We are trying to get more multiple uses out of the space available.”

The space can be reserved by any faculty member who would like an interactive learning space to teach in. Schloman and Lindner both said the neutral, mellow, non-intimidating atmosphere makes it an ideal teaching setting and offers teachers a chance to really work with their students.

The area is open to students when a class is not scheduled for the area.

Not many teachers have taken advantage of the space yet, Schloman said. But students have.

The comfy chairs are what bring Nick Beers, a freshman computer science major, and sophomore psychology major Leah Hawksley to the sixth floor to study.

“I come to study here at least once a week,” she said. “I come to this floor because of the comfortable furniture.”

Schloman said one concern was that creating a collaborative learning area would create noise that may be bothersome to some students. However, Lindner said students never seemed to mind when she held her class in the library. She said most seemed to not even notice the disruption and went right along studying.

There are plenty of areas on other floors of the library where students can study quietly, Schloman said.

Brad Simmons, senior medical technology major, said he noticed a lot of groups have been coming to work on the sixth floor and the area is usually quite noisy. He added, though, that the noise doesn’t bother him much.

“If I really need to study I usually will just go to the back where it is quieter,” he said.

Schloman said she wants to encourage faculty and students to take advantage of the space on the sixth floor. She and other library faculty plan to observe how the space is used and any problems that may arise.

“We plan to learn from this and possibly do something similar on the 10th floor,” she said.

Contact library reporter Tiffany Ciesicki at [email protected].