June 08, 2017 8:00AM
When Pittsburg State University’s Axe Library opened 38 years ago, computer networking was just beginning, the first PCs were just coming on the market and students spent long hours in seemingly endless stacks searching for research materials.
In recent decades there’s been a radical transformation in both the amount of information available to students and the way they access it. A current renovation project in Pittsburg State University’s Leonard H. Axe Library is a response to that change and part of a multi-year effort to not only renovate the building, but also to transform the way it functions as the center of learning on a modern campus.
“From the earliest days, the library has been the very heart of the learning process on the university campus and that’s going to continue to be the case in the future,” said Randy Roberts, dean of Library Services at PSU. “Axe Library is changing, both physically and in the way it functions in order to adapt to the explosive growth of knowledge and technology we’ve already experienced and expect in the years ahead.”
This summer, the entire third floor of the library is being renovated. The work, by Crossland Construction, is a $1.1 million project funded by state rehabilitation and repair dollars.
Roberts said that in addition to new ceilings, floors, doorways and bathrooms, library patrons will notice a significant difference in the way the space is laid out when they return in the fall.
“The shelving for books on third floor will be about one-third of what it was,” Roberts said. “Instead, the third floor is being designed as a quiet, or semi-quiet study space.”
Replacing many of the shelves filled with books and papers will be eight additional study rooms that patrons can reserve. There will be 100 new seats at 10 large library tables. Each table will have built-in electrical outlets and desk-style lighting.
Additionally, the space will have a variety of soft seating options as well as bench-style seating in eight alcoves designed to take advantage of the natural light coming in from the roof. The alcoves will all be equipped with electrical outlets and USB ports.
Some library-provided computing and a print release station will also be included, as well as a small area for art display.
“Overall, we are adding a significant number of seats for students to better serve them,” Roberts said. “We think our students will appreciate the new amenities and services we provide.”
Last summer, the library renovated the building’s lower level, replacing long stacks crowded with magazines and bound materials with digital scanning equipment, rooms designed and equipped for collaborative student learning and video and audio spaces where students can produce and edit their AV projects.
Together, the two projects are part of an ongoing plan, expressed in the library’s strategic plan, to “develop new and innovative learning, instruction and meeting spaces” throughout the library.
“Students today require and expect flexible, technology-rich learning environments that support their classroom experiences,” Roberts said. “It may look and feel different from the library of 50 or 100 years ago, but Axe Library continues to be at the heart of learning at Pittsburg State University.”