Neon fabric and rectilinear urbanistic couches now crowd the second floor of the Upjohn Library Commons.
For returning students, the furnishing change has been controversial. Breaking from the library’s traditional, American heritage styled interior, the new modular seating clashes with Upjohn Library Commons’ traditional dark wood décor and muted amber-brown palette.
“Impractical, counter-productive, and inconsistent with the goal of the space,” described Sivhaun Sera ’18. Sera isn’t alone in her take of the replacement.
Conservatively opined as “unique” and otherwise openly described as “hideous,” “uncomfortable,” “mismatched,” and “unnecessary,” K students have hardly spoken highly of the library’s updates.
Alarmingly, the library’s administration seems oblivious to the general campus consensus.
Dr. Stacy Nowicki, Library Director, and Joisan DeHaan, Office Coordinator and Circulation Assistant, shared with The Index the administration’s perception of the furniture update’s reception.
“So far the reception has been positive,” Dr. Nowicki wrote, “I have had no complaints since students returned this fall.”
Dr. Nowicki went on to describe the furniture replacement as a project in the works for “the last few years” and a decision made after taking into account noise complaints from students who frequently work in the Reading Room.
The library is out of touch with student wants and needs. While the library has moved forward with the belief that it acted in the best interest of K students, our data shows otherwise. What can explain such a discrepancy? The library simply isn’t attuned to campus consensus, or may have intentionally dismissed student feedback.
“It’s a waste of space that could be used more effectively,” one Circulation Desk Assistant told The Index.
In The Index’s most recent poll of 100 students, 83% responded that they “would prefer more tables” in the space outside the reading room, with only 10 students providing positive feedback. The library’s administration didn’t provide comment on the poll about which the The Index inquired.Even more alarming is an apparent promotion of nonacademic usage of the space. Students and faculty may regard napping in an academic environment as rather dubious, but the library finds otherwise.
A 7% respondent minority claims that the lounge furniture is “a new place to nap,” seemingly consistent with the library’s goal of establishing a space that will “discourage group study and will be an inviting place for students to…nap.”
The Upjohn Library Commons is a place to work and study, not lounge and nap. As students we take pride in and are grateful for the aesthetic of our workspace and we value its productive spaces. Should the library wish to continue to provide support for the student body, then it must be more attune to and receptive of campus consensus. Perhaps it’s time to step out of the book stacks and listen to student needs.