Director of library questions Learning Center move

By Victoria Martin, News Editor

In a move that puts her in direct conflict with the Dean of Faculty, the Director of the E.C. Buhler Library is challenging the finer details of the Learning Center planned move to the library.

Previously the Dean of Faculty April Edwards had mentioned that the Learning Center was moving to the library specifically because they were out growing their current location in the Frick Center.

Edwards also said that moving to the library was going to provide many more opportunities for members of the EC community from students to faculty and administration across the campus to interact in a more convenient manner.

Susan Swords-Steffen, however, stated during an interview “that was not true,” in relation to the Learning Center needing more space.

“In the plans that were shown to us, it did not seem to me the Learning Center would not be gaining much more, if any at all, space than what they currently have in their Frick Center location,” Steffen said.

When asked to follow up, Edwards stated that she was unclear as to why anyone would think that.

“No, I don’t think that is correct. There is certainly a lot more space [in the library] and is better configured for [the Learning Center],” Edwards continued. “It also allows for when there is a lot of tutoring in the library for the tutors to expand out into the library as needed.”

No specifics to what the final renovation would look like, as the contractors are still in the early stages of designing a new layout according to both Edwards and Steffen.

However, according to Steffen and confirmed by Edwards, there are three options up for consideration.

“Plan A only focuses on the first floor, while both plan B and C impact the lower level, as well,” Steffen told the Leader.

Steffen also questioned where the money was coming from to do this massive renovation.

“I can’t give specifics,” Steffen told the Leader, “but I can tell you that it is a seven figure number and, last I heard, the college was just coming out of a financial crisis.”

“I love this college,” she continued, “and would hate to see anything happen to it because of an unnecessary renovation.”

Later, Edwards would confirm this large dollar amount.

“The renovation is going to cost a million dollars. But that is the cap for out architects and they are well aware of that,” Edwards said. “There may be a phase two in the next year or, maybe, the next two years.”

Edwards also stated that the million dollar budget was coming from two seperate accounts that the college has allocated for these types of projects.

“[The money] is coming from our reserve account and our operating budget,” said Edwards.

Edwards also stated that the renovation would only be touching the first floor.

“With the time frame and budget, it would just not be feasible to try and do anything else at this point in time,” Edwards said.

With such a large renovation Steffen also questioned why no students were asked about if they thought this was a necessary change to the college.

“[The library] has around three to four thousand students walk in and out of this building, so I am surprised that no one has asked students about this to get their opinions,” Steffen said.

Edwards commented that students were not included in this task force because this project had been in the works for a long time and that a student might not be able to commit to the time required to discuss the project.

“Right now there are not any students on the task force. Partially that was because we weren’t sure what this would all really look like,” Edwards said, “and part of it was that this has been going on for a really long time and students tend to think in terms of semesters. With us starting last summer and going into this summer, it didn't make full sense to have a student commit to that long of a time frame.”

Steffen wanted to make it clear that the library was not against this collaboration and the library was not nearly as nervous about the renovation as it was early in the semester.

“We are not against this new collaboration,” said Steffen, “we were just afraid when we felt our voices were not being heard and that decisions were being made without our input.”

“We wanted to make sure our ability to be where the students are and be accessible for them to ask us for help to be preserved,” continued Steffen. “The plans we have seen thus far would preserve that.”