Alivia GIles Campus Sep 9, 2022

Library-to-learning commons renovation at Alma College




As Alma College welcomes students back on campus for fall classes, “the library-to-learning commons” renovation project continues in McIntyre Mall.

The project is set to be complete by Spring 2023. The new “learning commons” will retain some elements of a traditional library, while also providing different spaces for students such as a café and lounge area. The building will also have a back door that opens toward Superior Street.

All library books will be located on the top floor of the new learning commons; this is also where all the library staff will be.

The main floor will have study spaces as well but will not be designed to be as quiet as the top floor.

The Writing Center, which has been temporarily moved to Dow, will be located on this floor, along with Academic Support from the CSO. An IT help desk and a media lab will be located on this floor as well.

The Andison Center and the Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE) are also set to have offices on the main floor of the building. The organizations also plan to have events in the space.

Viktoria Lamley (’25) has fond memories of spending time in the library with her friends as a freshman last year. They enjoyed having a convenient place to meet up and study together.

When renovations began, Lamley and her friends lost their favorite study space. “Winter semester was lonely with less group studying options, so I [worked] in my dorm which was twice as hard because I had to put way more energy and focus into staying productive and on task,” Lamley said.

The library has been temporarily moved into Tyler Van-Dusen, but for Lamley, it’s not the same. “I only ever went to the TVD library when I had something to print since the dorm printers couldn’t do front and back,” Lamley said.

Lamley has mixed feelings about the learning commons project. “It seems a little frivolous, but I know I’ll appreciate having [Qdoba on campus],” Lamley said.

The “Stacks,” which are one of the oldest parts of the library building, constructed in the early 1920’s, has been a favorite study space among students over the years. Lamley is disappointed that students will no longer have these spaces when the renovation is complete.

“I also feel for all the students upset over the loss of the Stacks, several felt that to be the most productive space and just something cool to know we had,” Lamley said.

As a freshman last year, Lottie Carman (’25) also enjoyed studying in the library. Like Lamley, Carman feels that no longer having that space has had a negative impact on her study habits.

“My study habits have changed a lot since the renovation of the library. During the first semester last year, I spent every day in the library studying with friends,” Carman said.

“[Most of the time] I study in my room, unfortunately. Studying in my room is not a comfortable and relaxing place to study, nor is it productive. I have not used the library in Tyler Van Dusen, mostly because it feels too crowded,” Carman said.

Not only is Carman personally looking forward to the “upgraded version of the library,” she thinks the unique space is something high school students will take into consideration as they are deciding which college to attend.

“As someone who experienced working as a tour guide over the summer of 2022, I think that students will be very interested when it gets built and see that space as a hang out area, hopefully,” Carman said.

“There are a lot of amazing things about Alma, but I think this building will show more of what we can offer with the larger space,” Carman said.

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