Concordia St. Paul News

February 14, 2020

Library Updates Offer Plenty to Love for CSP Community

In honor of Library Lover’s Day, several CSP Library staff discussed how the updates to the library have impacted the space. It’s been over a year since CSP’s library rolled out its changes, and overall, they seem to be quite successful.

The goal of these updates was to position the library to become the main student hub on campus and provide relevant services and information for students as they study and navigate the ever-changing world. Director of Library Services Jon Neilson knew that CSP didn’t really have a dedicated student center, so he sought to have the library fill that position: “We’re always trying to find a balance between a “traditional” library and how our students want to use the space.”

One of the most notable changes to the library was moving the books from the main floor to create more space for students to gather and study. In the past year, there has been a very positive response to this new study area on the south side of the main floor. Neilson stated, “I was really surprised by how quickly students started using the spaces we freed up on the south side of the main floor and the lower level. Where did they all come from? Where were they hanging out before?” 

Some of the other more noticeable changes, aside from moving the IT Help Desk into the library, were moving the Writing Center and Academic Support Services into the library on the south side. Academic Support Services were previously located in the tunnel and the Writing Center was located upstairs from the dining hall, which made them rather difficult to locate. Their new location has made them more visible to students, and in turn, more students are taking advantage of their services. Joel Bisser, Writing and Academic Outreach Coordinator, explained that “being in a more visible area normalizes tutoring: reduces the stigma and makes it okay to ask for help.”  

Academic Support Services is implementing its first online scheduling system for subject-specific tutoring this spring semester called Accudemia. 

“So far, student feedback has been extremely positive,” Wendy Vargas, director of academic support, explained “Students like having the ability to see what tutors are available and when they can schedule with them. From the admin side, there is a lot that has to be continuously monitored and uploaded, but the ease for students is fantastic!” 

Another goal of the library updates was to have faculty embrace the library as a classroom space and a more neutral space to hold office hours.

“I really think there’s a large number of students who would be more willing to check in with their instructors if they were in a more public, accessible space,” Neilson expressed, “Going to a faculty person’s office can be super intimidating!” A few professors have started to embrace this, and the hope is that more will as it will allow for better relationships between students and faculty. 

In addition to encouraging faculty to use the physical library space, there is also a push for them to the same with the digital resources. The library offers several research resources for students and faculty and wants to help faculty embrace electronic materials for their courses. Neilson explained, “we’re being more intentional about embedding library resources and services directly in Blackboard courses. We’re going to keep pushing academic programs to move away from the traditional textbook model. It’s a broken model and isn’t working for today’s students. We’ve had a few “small wins” on this front, but we’d always welcome conversation with faculty.”

Faculty can work with the Curriculum and Instruction Center to embed important things like “information literacy” and research skills directly into their curriculum. Neilson stated, “We know that when faculty partner with librarians to craft research assignments, the assignments are better, the students are better able to understand them, and the final product is better.” The ultimate goal, according to Neilson, is for CSP students to be lifelong learners and information literate citizens who know how to find, evaluate, and use information ethically, in both their academics and their professional lives. One development on this front is Digital Commons@CSP, which is CSP’s online institutional repository to preserve and promote student scholarship. Digital Commons was launched in 2018 and has since seen significant growth.

The library is now much more than just a library or study space; it is a point of pride for CSP. The admissions tour guides now take prospective students and their families through the library to show off the positive learning environment and all the services it has to offer. Writing Center tutor, Mara Grau, noted, “When I am sitting at the tutoring desk and a tour group comes through, I always have a smile on my face because I’m glad they get to see what CSP is really like: we’re a community of people who want to learn and help our peers succeed.”

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