New Study Rooms and Reference Redesign Completed

New subject tables and study rooms in the libraryThis week marked the opening of the new study rooms on the lower level of the library – but that is just the most visible element of the library’s continually-evolving approach to meeting the needs of Chelmsford patrons.

This project began with the realization of two trends:

  1. Our print reference collection was under-utilized
  2. Our single quiet study room was constantly booked

A New Approach To Reference
One of the first things patrons associate with libraries are reference books – the books that have to stay in the library. However, fewer and fewer people were actually using those books. Modern lifestyles are such that it is easier to do research at home or online, not using reference books in the library.

This reality calls for an updating of our approach to reference, and one way the library is responding is by making most of the traditional “library use only” books able to be checked out and taken home. These books have shorter loan periods – seven days – and cannot be renewed or requested by other libraries. This special circulation status should strike a balance between making sure the books are available in the library when people need them, and the convenience for patrons to use them at home.

As these books were redesignated as “okay to check out,” they were also interfiled with the regular circulating collection. This makes information on a subject much easier to find, because all books on a topic are in one place, instead of having to check the circulating collection and reference collection.

The Library Is The Place To Be
Despite the drop in use of the reference collection, there has been a rise in use of the library as a common study and meeting space – especially by tutors and small groups.

Our single study room is always in demand, and it became clear than one room did not meet the needs of our patrons. So, as a way to repurpose the space that had housed our reference collection, we took down those shelves and built three new study rooms. Check out our online photo gallery of room construction.

Each room is 8′ x 8′, has two chairs, a long counter top work area, a clock, power outlets, and ethernet jacks for connecting to the internet. The rooms are reservable by contacting the Reference Desk.

Making Popular Topics Easier to Access
The third goal in this project was to highlight a few of the more frequently-used subject areas, and make them easier for people to find. To solve this we added three new subject tables, and also put these in the space where the reference shelves used to be.

The subjects on these tables are:

  • Encyclopedias & Statistics
  • Career Resources
  • Car Repair
  • Genealogy
  • Maps & Atlases

These are subjects that patrons are frequently asking for, and highlighting them on subject tables, with visible signs, will make them much easier to locate and use.

Most of the work has been accomplished, with library staff still finishing up some of the final touches. When you get a chance, stop by the lower level of the library to check out the changes.

Let us know what you think – we listen!