As students embrace new ways to learn, library learns to adapt

At Moffitt Undergraduate Library, staff have been known to linger in the area just beyond the main entrance, carefully observing when and how students use computers and printers, study alone, work in groups, even whether they choose to perch on a tall chair or settle into a low one.


Their interest in undergrads’ study habits is anything but idle. A multi-year upgrade of Moffitt is underway, and how students choose to use its resources is shaping plans for the future.

Major renovation of Moffitt is set for 2015. In the meantime, library staff have been introducing smaller-scale changes, including a new information gateway and reading lounge, which opened this year on the building’s main floor.

The lounge is ringed by 2,000 new books on a wealth of subjects, attractively displayed in their book jackets, as in a bookstore, and available for check-out. Popular seating options include a movable work surface that students can pull up to an armchair to create a small study desk.

Undergraduate education is one of Chancellor Dirks’ pillar themes. The transformation of Moffitt advances that academic goal.
– Beth Dupuis, associate university librarian

“We want the library to energize students and help them use their time productively. Comfortable seats and Internet access are key ingredients,” says Associate University Librarian Beth Dupuis.

Nearby, students have access to a premium computing experience: 30 fast iMacs, some with extra-large monitors suitable for working on graphics projects and one designed specifically for students with disabilities. While that’s fewer computers than in the past, the extra space, in response to popular demand, is now configured for students’ personal laptops.

The information gateway also features free digital scanning, reduced-price printing and — starting this semester — a laptop and digital-tablet check-out service, designed to “empower students who don’t own these devices, and encourage digital literacy,” says Associate University Librarian Erik Mitchell. The new service makes 20 MacBook Air laptops and 10 iPads available to students for use in the library or elsewhere.

Students seem more than happy with the changes. As the new information gateway was launched, visits to the library were on the rise by some 28,000 a month, to nearly 118,000. The area has gone from being a “dead zone” at times, notes Dupuis, to “jam-packed” for most of Moffitt’s 18-hour daily schedule.

To take a peek at further improvements in store for Moffitt Library — from technology labs to flexible event spaces, collaborative-learning areas to quiet zones — see