Story by Angel Flores & Esosa Iyengunmwena/COMM 2311
Photos by students in COMM 1318
If you haven’t been to the library on the South Plains College Levelland campus lately, you might not recognize it. The old, retro look is out.
What’s in are walls wearing vibrant coats of paint. Every pillar on the first floor is a different color.
There is also lot of bright, funky furniture that matches the paint. It was moved in this semester.
Mark Gottschalk, the director of libraries at South Plains College, says the makeover started as a way to make students feel more comfortable using the facility. His vision of how to do that completely changed the atmosphere of the library with renovations to the first and second floors.
“It was an old 1980s library with lots of wood and lots of books that had not been used in a long time,” he says. “Kids were asking for e-books and spaces to hang.”
Gottschalk says the renovations started around 2019.
“We want it to be a space where you can come in and hang with your friends,” he says. “If you happen to study, great.”
SPC student Carson Briggs says she studies in the library and she calls the renovations an “upgrade”.
“I like it better now,” she says, “and there are more plugs, there are more seats, there are more tables.”
The addition of privacy desks appears to be a favorite among students. Students say they like to have a place to sit down and not feel the eyes and sounds of the classroom.
“There are a lot more comfortable seats now,” Briggs says, “and there are many more table options that are huge so there are not large groups of people at tables.”
The first floor is much more open than it used to be says librarian Nathan Ragland. His desk has moved to a far corner of the first floor. “Our computer lab used to be in this room over here,” he says, pointing to his left. “It’s a long, narrow room. It’s not suited very well as a computer lab.”
That long, narrow room is now a tutoring space. A big, orange flag is posted outside the tutoring space’s door so students know where to find it.
“We turned the far end of the library into a proper computer lab,” Ragland says, “which is actually more spread out.”
Student Dakota Reyher, much like Briggs, likes the renovations too. “They have quicker access to computers and printers without you having to leave your room,” Reyher says. “They have a place where you can always go and ask a lot questions.”
Opposite the librarian’s desk on the first floor is an area Gottschalk calls the STEM Corner. He says it is a grant-based project meant to support STEM majors. (STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.) SPC Chemistry Professor Laci Alexander got the grant for the project. The STEM Corner features colorful science related murals, featuring microscopes and a large rocket ship, painted on the walls. The murals were painted by Kristi Kristinek, one of the art professors at SPC.
Upstairs, on the second floor, is now where students will find DVDs, audio books, and what’s left of the library’s collection of hard bound books. Gottschalk explains the collection has largely shifted to e-books to meet student demand. The bookshelves, or “stacks” as Gottschalk calls them, used to go all the way around the second floor. Gottschalk says the plan is for the empty shelves to be cleared out to make room for a lounge and quiet study spaces.
Unlike the first floor of the library, Gottschalk explains, the second floor is designed to offer more study space with quieter rooms and nooks. But right at the top of the stairs is a row of brightly colored diner-style tables and chairs that resemble dining booths. Movable desk/chairs and white boards offer the opportunity for small group work.
Is the renovation complete? Not exactly, according to Gottschalk. He says he wants the library to continue to evolve to meet students’ needs. The design of the library space, he says, was meant to complement the space inside the new science building just across the street. It’s an alternative gathering and study space that can continue to grow and change.
In the meantime, the library staff is working hard to encourage students to enjoy the makeover.
“I think so far it’s been well received,” Gottschalk says. He says some open houses and advertising is already being planned to show it off.
If you want to “check out” the library’s makeover, this fall it is open Monday through Thursday from 745 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday’s it’s open from 745 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s closed Saturday, and it’s open Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will be closed over the Thanksgiving break from 11/ 23 through 11/27.
Look for extended hours during final exam week.