Library Listens, Study Space Expands

December 20, 2016

By Bob Holmes

Columbia International University students said they needed more space for quiet study. Library Director Cynthia Snell was listening. She responded with a comfortable, enlarged area for study in the G. Allen Fleece Library.

Snell used student surveys and focus groups to gauge library needs. So, as soon as Christmas break began, several stacks of books on the second floor were packed up and the shelving disassembled. Some books were moved to the first floor while others were donated to a CIU alumnus. In their place is cozy furniture, new cubicles, as well as new study carrels, each carrel equipped with individual lighting.

Snell said the need for the action became obvious during finals week of the fall semester.

“We had more people in here than we had chairs. We had people sitting on floors,” Snell said. “It’s amazing how many students use the library.”

Snell says even though a large number of books were permanently removed from the library, that doesn’t mean they are no longer available.

“We removed any book that wasn’t being used that was published before the year 2000 that was available through PASCAL,” Snell said.

PASCAL stands for Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries. It’s a rapid book-delivery service enabling students to request and receive books from academic libraries across the state.

“We created more study area the students were requesting, without them losing access to the resources we had,” Snell added.

Plus, Snell notes that many of the books that were removed still had a smoky stench from a fire that caused extensive damage to the library in 2010.

The changes are driven by Snell’s philosophy on overseeing a university library.

“We need to service the students and service the faculty because we have moved to a faculty-driven acquisition system,” Snell said. “The librarians do not pick the resources. (The faculty) knows better when it comes to what their students need to be successful in their classes.”

And when it comes to future student requests, Snell says she will evaluate them and see what she can do.   

“Recently, we had students looking around, and they asked, ‘Where are the beanbag chairs?’” Snell said.

The old ones had lost their beans. Snell took note.  

“We are ordering 10 beanbag chairs.”