Brooks Library opens student common area


The fourth floor silent study area is known to be used for student athletes in need of quiet time. Because of this, many other CWU students avoid the fourth floor because of excess noise, despite the silence request, and retreat to the third floor.

Matt Escamilla, Staff Reporter

Brooks Library opened a new student common area located on the second floor on Feb.12. The opening of the common area was a process to make the library more functional for students. The reorganization of the library started in the summer of 2018, which provided enough space for the new area. The improved second floor opened to students in the fall, but the common area wasn’t ready until Feb. 12, due to it not having all of its amenities until last month, according to Dean of Libraries Rebecca Lubas.

“The user experience is at the center of what we do,” Lubas said. “It is all about making that user experience the best one that we possibly can with the resources we have.”

The new common area has movable tables with power stations, movable furniture and four interactive smart boards. Lubas said if changes need to be made over time because students realize they don’t like certain furniture or the area needs more seating, having furniture that’s easy to move will make the process easier. Movable furniture also protects the space from becoming outdated.

Students at Lubas’ previous college would build “forts,” cubicles and personalized study areas for themselves out of white boards and moveable furniture during midterms and finals.

“Once it really catches on that the students can customize the spaces for themselves,  you really get to see creative things,” Lubas said.

Collection Development Librarian and Interim Associate Dean of Libraries Ginny Blackson said the library staff wanted to get the second floor back to its intended use as an open space for students.

Blackson and Kim Hansen, administrative specialist in Brooks Library, attended a library design conference held in Vancouver, Washington in 2017. During the conference they viewed blueprints of other libraries for ideas.

“You’re piggybacking on other libraries and other institutions that have done this and have tried experiments,” Lubas said. “The process that they have used here benefited from the experience that’s out there in the profession and building on things that have been known to work at other universities.”

The reorganization of the library also provided the opportunity to move the silent area in the library away from the music library and high ceilings of the fourth floor to the third.

“Noise just goes everywhere. There’s no way to keep [the fourth floor] quiet and we’ve spent so much time trying to enforce that quiet and realizing that really what we had was the wrong space,” Blackson said.

Brooks Library was built in 1975. According to Blackson, the library at the time could accommodate 8,000 students and 1 million books. CWU now has over 12,000 students and 1.5 million books. Blackson mentioned she collaborated with the University of Washington’s library school about the changes being made to CWU’s library.

A dedicated archival area is also on the second floor of Brooks Library. According to Carlos Pelley, an archives and special collections technician, people can come in and learn about CWU’s history, along with the history of other areas including the nine counties east of the Cascades. Pelli says the dedicated archive space has made the section more visible.

“A lot of students come into the archives not knowing that we even have an archive…a lot of surprise like whoa what is this place?” Pelli said.

The building has five group study rooms located on the third and fourth floor.

Government publications and current periodicals are together on the third floor. Designated computer areas can be found on the first, third and fourth floors.

“We want to be welcoming and inspiring in meeting the students’ needs, how ever it is that they choose to study,” Lubas said.