Architecture students work on library design

Architecture students at Arapahoe Community College must propose design ideas for the renovation of a Denver libary as a semester project, reports the Denver Post.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for the students to come into contact with a real-world client and have those kinds of connections,” said Greg Houston, the students’ architecture professor at Arapahoe Community College.

In addition to connections with the Denver Public Library and Denver-based Humphries Poli Architects, the firm in charge of the renovation designs for the Ross-Barnum branch, the students were also helping to forge an important connection with the University of Colorado Denver, which has recently announced its own architecture degree program.

“It is our hope that we develop an alignment between the community college courses and what they’re offering and what we are wanting this bachelor’s of science to be,” associate professor Phillip Gallegos of CU Denver’s architecture and planning school said.

An Arapahoe graduation, Houston struggled when he transferred to University of Colorado. “I want to make sure that students who apply and are accepted are better prepared,” he told the Post.

ACC students presented their design ideas for the branch library on Nov. 14. “I think there are some things that we can incorporate into the modest renovation we will be doing,” said Susan Kotarba, director of public services for Denver Public Library, who was at the presentation as a judge. “There were really some very exceptional ideas.”

Libraries go digital

Community college libraries are going digital, reports Community College Week.

Bronx Community College‘s new library offers a central study area, known as the “information commons,” with 42 Apple Macs and 158 Dell PCs.  Study rooms for small groups ring the commons.

Community college libraries today must assume a dual identity as a home to both traditional printed resources and contemporary information technology. In the North Hall and Library, that duality plays out on the second floor. There, on one end, is the circulation desk, where students can check out books that are part of the library’s vast collection. At the other end is the New Media Desk, where students can order videos to be streamed to screens in the group study rooms. IPads, laptops, cameras, and calculators can also be checked out. Students in some courses can borrow a laptop for an entire semester.

Students can access “multimedia educational resources 24/7 from any location,” notes Teresa McManus, BCC’s chief librarian.

College librarians worry about competing with Google, reports Community College Week. But Kenley Neufeld, library director at Santa Barbara City College is confident librarians will change with the times. “We are not going to be replaced by technology,” said Neufeld.

“The role of the librarian is to help students think critically about the resources that are available. Scholarly inquiry takes more than a Google search. We can guide them to other resources. We’re an indispensable part of the learning environment, and I think we can position ourselves to be a key player in the future.”

Libraries aren’t reserved for solitary study any more, reports CC Week. Modern libraries provide spaces for students to work on group projects. Some have cafes.

On a tour of the New York Public Library last month,  I saw only one person with a book in the reading room. He wasn’t reading it. He was sleeping on it.


The library at Dean Dad’s community college has set aside a room for quiet study. No beeping allowed. Students love it.

. . . American culture loves noise.  This is the country that invented the open work space, the car radio, and the group-bonding “retreat.”  But there is something to be said for having a quiet space for concentration.

Academically Adrift found that critical thinking skills improve when students study alone, but the “length of time spent in group study bore no correlation to improved critical thinking,”  the dean writes. “The social pressures of group work seem to work against digging deep. ”

Peace and quiet can be hard to come by for community college students, who often have part-time jobs, young children and thin-walled apartments in marginal neighborhoods, the dean notes.

In those circumstances, high tech study pods are all well and good, but what you really need is for everyone to just shut up and let you focus.  Student, chair, table, lamp, book, pen; that’s it.

He’s a fan of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, subtitled The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking.

I also recommend Diana Senechal’s Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture.