Co-creation has been at the heart of our Library Development Project. Students have worked with the Library every step of the way and we attribute our achievements so far to this partnership. Analysis of library feedback, student focus groups and the close involvement of the Students’ Union through all stages of the project have helped to ensure that the finished product reflects student needs. So now it’s much easier to work with a mobile device in the library because we’ve increased the number of power sockets and charging points on study desks, we have more bookable rooms and PCs, including MACS, and we’re creating spaces that can flex with the way that students work – all of this in direct response to feedback.
The Library worked to create a refurbishment programme which would create as little disruption to students’ studies as possible. Clifford Whitworth Library is a 24 hour building, open every day of the year apart from Christmas Day, so undertaking a major construction project whilst trying to keep the service running presents particular challenges. The decision to undertake the work in two six-month phases, June-December in 2016 and 2017, and overnight, has been a major factor in minimising adverse impact on students during the busiest time of the year.
As well as shaping the outcome of the project our students have also had opportunities to gain real-world experience through it. Our BA Visual Arts students have been involved in a competition to create artwork for the refurbished floors. Working to a brief developed by our designer, FUSE’s Steve Bell, and lecturer Jill Randall, students were asked to create textural or sculptural pieces, using withdrawn book stock from the library, which explore the themes of “sense of place”, “community” and “library in the park”. The competition results will feature in a blog post later in the year.
Some of our Radio and TV broadcast journalism students took the opportunity to use the development project as a basis for their coursework and recorded vox pops interviews with staff and students within the library. A photography student created a video based on the opening of the 2nd floor, and will be creating a time lapse video of the ground floor building works in the next phase. Finally, our Quantity Surveying students have benefitted from lectures and site tours given by the construction team, Harry Fairclough.
We are exploring further opportunities for student involvement as we plan for phase two. We’ll also be undertaking a full review of the refurbished spaces with students over the forthcoming months through focus groups, graffiti walls and observations of how students use the space. Needs change as well, and we need to make sure that our libraries change in tandem with them – watch this space!