University News

SciLi revamp brings new resource centers

Centers now located on refurbished floors of library include First-Gen, Writing, Sheridan

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Replete with colorful walls, classrooms and coffee machines, the upper levels of the Sciences Library are a far cry from the stacks of yesteryear.

As students will discover during the SciLi Open House Sept. 19, floors five through nine have been renovated and are now home to campus resources, administrative departments and research projects. Floor 10 will follow suit shortly. 

Some of the offices to relocate to the SciLi include the Writing Center, First-Generation College and Low-Income Center, English Language Center, CIS Instructional Technology Group and the Language Resource Center, the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning and the Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative.

The relocation of offices allows for greater collaboration between resources and departments to help address a student or faculty member’s concerns holistically, said Steven Lavallee, head of the Friedman Study Center and SciLi building manager.

“When I heard about this, I remember thinking, ‘What is this hodgepodge of departments?’” Lavellee said, adding that his perspective has since evolved. For instance, surrounding the First-Gen and Low-Income Center with academic support on the fifth floor and financial advising services on the sixth floor may ease the transition to college life for many, he said.

Lavallee also identified room for collaboration between the Rhode Island Innovative Policy Lab and the Brown University Social Science Experimental Laboratory, both of which are currently based on the ninth floor. The Data Science Initiative will be taking the place of RIIPL, and RIIPL will move to the 10th floor as it nears completion, Lavallee said, adding that a shared interest in data analysis could unite researchers from all three departments. 

Some office spaces may also be rented out for student use in the evenings once individual departments settle on their hours of operation, Lavallee said.

Some changes followed students complaints. The Computer Science Master’s Lab, temporarily housed alongside the Quiet Study Room on the fourth floor, now has its own space on the eighth floor, and the Friedman Center has received new bathrooms.

The University has reduced SciLi staffing hours but will be attentive to student feedback in measuring the success of the change, said University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi.

The number of full-time employees at the Friedman Center has also dropped from 4.5 to 2.5, though the  staff members leaving the Friedman Center have found equivalent or more senior positions at the Rockefeller Library and the John Hay Library with identical or better salaries.

“The guarantee was that no staff member would lose his or her job and see a cut in their salary or status,” Hemmasi said.

This staff redistribution also reflects the changing responsibilities of employees at the SciLi and those at the Rock and the Hay, Hemmasi said. Some collections and services — such as the DVD collection and print reserves — have been moved to the Rock from the SciLi, she said.

The renovations mark the culmination of five years of planning, following recommendations for space reallocation issued by the Library Space Planning Committee in 2011.