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University Libraries celebrates students with events, renovated spaces


Virginia Tech students pet therapy dogs at the library. Visits from VT Helping PAWS therapy animals has become a popular event at Newman Library.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 4, 2012 – Renovated spaces and fun events kick off the new semester at the University Libraries.

“This summer we started the renovation process, focusing primarily on carpet and paint on the second floor,” Brian Mathews, associate dean for learning and outreach, said. “Our intention was to make the space more bright and open.”

Mathews leads a team of volunteers, from the library and around campus, to learn exactly what Virginia Tech students need from the library’s learning spaces. These discovery teams interviewed students about their technology, media production, group work and individual study space needs. In addition to this process, Mathews continues to collect responses from students in an online feedback form and brought furniture design companies Herman Miller and Steelcase to the University Libraries to learn about national trends in learning spaces. Officers from the Student Government Association are also helping the library develop a survey to learn more about student needs.

“We’re still in the learning and listening phase,” Mathews said.

The libraries have begun many new services to meet student demands. Earlier this year, the library extended its hours to 24 hours a day, five days a week during the spring and fall semesters. The libraries also implemented a text-messaging service that reminds users when books are due. This semester, a new desktop delivery service will provide scans of print items available at the University Libraries, like journal articles, book chapters, and articles from conference proceedings, and then deliver the files to the user’s inter-library loan account.

“We’re focused on user experience, and we’re here to help,” Charla Lancaster, director of access services and assessment, said. “Research can be difficult, and we want to do everything we can to ease the process.”

But the libraries are not just about work. The libraries kicked off the semester with a game night, and more than 700 students came out to play Twister, poker, putt-putt and video games. Popular events from last year, such as the Newman at Night film series and visits from VT Helping PAWS therapy animals, will continue this semester. In late September, the libraries will host a large-scale, campus-wide scavenger hunt called Hokie Hijinx.

“The scavenger hunt will last three days and have upwards of 150 clues,” Scott Fralin, a library employee who is coordinating the event, said. Teams will need to register for the event by Sept. 21, and the hunt begins on Sept. 26. The clues will take participants all over campus and into downtown Blacksburg. Participants will also explore the University Libraries and use library resources to solve clues and have the chance to win some great prizes.

“We have all kinds of awesome things to show off in the library,” Fralin said.

The Virginia Tech University Libraries were established in 1872 with 500 volumes. Today, the libraries' holdings include more than 2 million volumes, and they provide access to a large collection of electronic databases and full-content journals, and is located in the Carol M. Newman Main Library, Art and Architecture, Veterinary Medicine, and the Northern Virginia Resource Service Center. The University Libraries is also a selective depository for federal documents and a member of the prestigious Association of Research Libraries. The University Libraries provide and promote access to information resources for the achievement of Virginia Tech's objectives in teaching, learning, research, creativity, and community service.