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Clark Memorial Library plans renovation

Kaitlyn Cooper
The Clark Memorial Library

On Monday, Feb. 5, the staff at the Clark Memorial Library (CML) released a library renovation survey to the campus community. The survey is meant to gauge what students, staff and faculty would like to see happen during the library renovation that is scheduled to occur within the coming year.

QR code for Library Renovation Survey (Code courtesy of CML staff and Student Life)

The survey is estimated to take about 4 minutes to complete and consists of 13 questions. The questions ask about how students use library services, the changes they would like to see and identifying information such as class year and student ID numbers. All participants will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. One winner will be selected every week for a total of three weeks. 

Suzanne Johnson-Varney, the director of the CML, credited President Eric Braun as the person responsible for the library renovation.

“He totally made this possible for us,” Johnson-Varney said. Braun’s goal with the renovation is to make the CML into a central hub for students, day and night. The library is one of the most central buildings on campus, bordered by Campus View residence halls, the commuter parking lot and the main sidewalk that connects nearly all other campus buildings. The renovation project was also motivated by hopes to make the SSU campus more “forward-facing” to the Portsmouth community, as the CML is a community resource as well as a resource for SSU students, faculty and staff. 

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There are many small study spaces on campus, but the CML staff hopes to develop new spaces to appeal to the needs of the diverse student body. Johnson-Varney said that some new spaces under consideration are group study rooms for various majors and nontraditional students, silent study rooms and testing banks for students during midterms and finals. Johnson-Varney noted that students also use the library as a social space to catch up with friends or relax between classes, and she wants that aspect of the library to develop further with the renovation. She said that the “goal” of the CML renovation “is to provide what students need.”

The library’s extended hours are the first step in this process. Johnson-Varney said that students have been responding positively to the new schedule. While the Bear Cave is open 24/7 for computer access, printing and studying, it is small and cannot accommodate a large number of students. With later library hours, more students will be able to easily access such services at a time convenient for their schedule. For example, the library’s previous schedule was relatively inaccessible to student athletes, as many athletic practices often ended around the same time the CML closed. With later hours and more available resources, student athletes will have more consistent opportunities to study efficiently. 

Other aspects up for discussion during the renovation are the library’s general appearance, the accessibility ramp outside of the building and movable furniture for collaborative, personalized study opportunities. Johnson-Varney expressed that, while offices and other services may be moved around campus as a result of the renovation, she would love to keep the Writing Center and ITS Services within the building. She explained that it is “great” to have both services located nearby, as students can utilize the Writing Center for proofreading and librarian services for research appointments. Many library services rely on technology, so ITS helps with the usage of various databases and ensuring students have access to a strong internet connection for test-taking. Some students have shared that they wish to see updated vending machines, an improved Bear Cave and specialty study rooms like those that Johnson-Varney described. 

Johnson-Varney expressed intense gratitude for the renovation, thanking President Braun for helping the CML become a “centralized space that students want to use” and that will serve as a student hub on campus. She added that the Library Renovation Survey, focus groups and short, randomized surveys will help narrow down what exactly students want to see through the renovation. There are many options for services, furniture, structure and various environments to choose from, and students will have a great influence over these changes. 

“It’s an exciting time for the library,” Johnson-Varney said.

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Cooper
Kaitlyn Cooper, Staff Reporter
Kaitlyn Cooper is a sophomore at Shawnee State University. Born in Kentucky and raised near Portsmouth, Kaitlyn is familiar with the surrounding area and has been involved in the large community for most of her life. With so many opportunities for future careers in her area, Kaitlyn struggled for years with deciding on the perfect major. Finally, she decided on English with a concentration in Communications. Kaitlyn is known for having a wide variety of interests, so she feels that pursuing a career in journalism is a perfect fit for her. For Kaitlyn, writing has been a skill and a pastime of hers since she was young. As a little girl, she enjoyed creating short newspapers with information about what had happened at school during the day and how much she loved her family and pets. Today, she is interested in investigative journalism and hopes to be deeply involved with it after earning her degree. Writing for the Chronicle will not only be a fun experience for Kaitlyn, but she also hopes it will help her refine her skill as a writer and narrow down her choices for her post-graduation plan. With this semester being her second with the Chronicle, Kaitlyn hopes to use her new writing experience to write interesting articles that appeal to the students at Shawnee State University. Her focus for this semester will be learning more about the field of journalism and exploring more topics in-depth rather than just report on breaking news. COVID-19 has been causing some issues for everyone, but Kaitlyn does not intend to let these setbacks prevent her from getting a good story. No matter what hurdles she may have to jump, Kaitlyn is dedicated to her readers and getting them the information they need.

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