Undergraduate Student Government is conducting a survey to better understand student frustrations with the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Library and to determine if a renovation could address these issues.
“We’re hoping to use this survey to get some data to see how big of an issue this really is for students, if they care about it or if they don’t care about it,” Michael Yoshimura, USG director of academic affairs, said.
The survey, which was officially launched on Monday, asks students if they believe Leavey Library should be renovated and how it could better suit students’ academic needs.
“The key part of the survey is the question: ‘Do you think Leavey should be renovated or not?’” said Hassaan Ebrahim, USG assistant director of academic affairs, who works with the USC Libraries. “That’s the data we’re really trying to get a massive amount of responses for to show the administration that this is very important to students.”
The survey provides a list of issues that students have previously voiced as concerns and asks which of those, if any, should be addressed in a renovation. The list includes sufficient individual study space, group study space, quiet study space, desktop computers, electrical outlets and comfortable furniture.
“It is a great meeting place for studying due to the library’s large size,” Richard Martin, a junior majoring in business administration, said. “Its high capacity is a plus, but there are not enough areas where groups can study.”
Martin said he studies at Leavey at least once a week. Other students, however, have not encountered many problems.
“I think Leavey Library is good how it is now,” said Nickole Zhen, a second-year graduate student majoring in financial engineering.
In 2011, USC Libraries, with the help of architects from Carrier Johnson, completed a comprehensive needs assessment and architectural study of Leavey Library to create a detailed renewal plan.
“Pedagogical trends only point to the need for greater mobility in learning technologies and greater flexibility in space designs,” the report reads. “These trends must be incorporated into Leavey Library or it will rapidly lose relevance to USC students.”
The $20 million renewal plan aims to solve infrastructure and space-allocation problems by expanding collaborative workspaces by 38 percent, classrooms by 65 percent and reshaping the first floor to provide 171 percent more student-focused areas, a cafe and a front terrace.
“I think we probably need more space in general,” Winnie Liang, a senior majoring in biological sciences, said. “So the best we can do is utilize the space we have better.”
The renewal plan proposes moving the first-floor offices to the fourth floor to create more usable space for students.
In addition, USG members hope that changing the desks will deliver a better use of space.
“The desks were made for computers in the 1990s and we don’t need that much space on desks anymore,” Yoshimura said.
Ebrahim agreed with the need for new furniture.
“A lot of work that we do as students is collaborative, so having furniture that can be easily moved from individual space into collaborative work environments would really help,” Ebrahim said.
Though these alterations aim to cater to students’ academic needs, many students said they dislike Leavey Library because of its environment.
“My least favorite thing would be how dismal it seems inside,” said Ashley Sykora, a freshman majoring in global health. “I’m not sure it’s necessarily the most important issue concerning the library, but I feel that kids would study there more often if the inside was more welcoming and cheery.”
Aimee Dang, an undecided sophomore, agreed with Sykora’s opinion.
“It’s pretty depressing in there,” said Dang, who said she visits Leavey Library once or twice a semester. “They could probably make more natural light or windows.”
The renewal aims to address these complaints by improving the atmosphere of the library.
“We want to increase natural lighting so that it feels more open and homey, not necessarily as institutional,” Yoshimura said. “[Leavey Library] was built in 1994 … the whole role of the library has completely changed.”
Academic Affairs hopes the renovation will accommodate both technological needs and learning environment needs.
“It’s not a matter of Leavey needing to be completely rebuilt,” Ebrahim said. “It’s that it needs to be upgraded to match the needs of the students of the 21st century.”
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