Library Space Fosters Research Connections

Library Space Fosters Research Connections
Sarah Rich
December 7, 2016

Renovations of the Libraries’ spaces seek to offer environments that are inclusive for all campus members. In just such an effort, the Dean’s conference room was redesigned and made available in 2013 as the Research Connections Room located on W. W. Hagerty Library’s second floor.

This redefinition of the outdated administrative meeting room was motivated by results of a series of interviews asking faculty what they valued in the Libraries. The much-expressed impression that it was a library only for students triggered further investigation to identify ways that the Libraries could better support the work of faculty. The lack of quiet spaces for faculty to retreat and the difficulty in reserving a space for meeting colleagues from different colleges were just two of the needs faculty identified. The room intends to give faculty and staff their own space in a library setting otherwise dominated by students. Since its opening and with only modest publicity, Research Connections has been booked over 600 times.

Research Connections serves as a gathering place for faculty and staff to engage with academic research and projects. Faculty retreat here for breaks between classes – able to get a cup of coffee from the Dean’s kitchen. Professors meet with graduate students to hash out complex mathematical proofs on the room’s white board. Libraries staff use the projector and Internet connections that the room is equipped with to broadcast webinars on the big screen. Cross-departmental faculty meet here to collaborate on grant-funded research. Japanese professors hold tutoring sessions and oral exams for their students. The list of ways this room has been used confirms the success of providing a special place for faculty connecting with research during their time on campus.

As we move into an increasingly interconnected world, it becomes essential to provide spaces like this for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Research Connections is a place where scholars from different fields can gather, bringing all of their various expertise, to work together on complex academic challenges.