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UTSA Library, 1604 Campus
(Photos by Tim Brownlee)

UTSA Library plans for next-gen upgrades

By Tim Brownlee
Assistant Director of Public Affairs

(Sept. 1, 2006)--Big changes are coming to the UTSA Library and the John Peace Library facility at the 1604 Campus. You might even call it "UTSA Library: The Next Generation." The library will add new staff, renovate the John Peace Library and offer new services.

"With recent retirements of high-level library staff and administrative restructuring, we will have a new generation of library administration," said David Johnson, UTSA interim library dean and vice provost for academic and faculty support. The university will recruit for a new library dean this fall with plans to have a new administrator on board by early spring.

"We want to create a more pleasant library environment and also make the library more useful to constituents," Johnson said. "There are many things about the UTSA Library that we can be proud of, but we know it can be a lot better. We are working on a two-phase plan to improve the appearance and efficiency of the library."

Phase 1, which lasts through the fall semester, involves gathering ideas for library improvement. The implementation of the new plan, Phase 2, will begin in the spring with completion set for the end of 2007.

Phase 1 began in March with the hiring of an architectural firm to do a space-efficiency study. The completed study offers suggestions including reconfiguration of the reference desk, improved lighting, replacement of the 1970s-era furniture and new paint on the walls. As a starter, new carpeting was installed in August in the 1604 Campus library.

Read the Library Space Study at the UTSA Library Web site.

"The results of the space-efficiency study are not etched in stone," added Johnson. "This fall, we are eagerly seeking reactions to the study. We want ideas and comments from students, faculty and other members of the UTSA community before we start making major changes this spring."

This fall, an online survey will be available as one way to provide feedback on the library changes.

A reconfigured 1604 Campus library will feature an "information commons" facility, a national trend in libraries. The one-stop information laboratory would include computers, a reference librarian for resource assistance and possibly a staffed writing lab for help with individual and group projects -- all in a pleasant "unquiet-library" environment.

Information commons typically offer students assistance with writing in a mixed-use space allowing independent or collaborative work on class projects. Johnson will work with Judith Gardner, director of the English 1013 writing program, to plan appropriate services for the commons.

Already in the works is movement of the required English 1013 classes to the online WebCT platform. Currently, class sections on how to do research and utilize library resources are taught in a library room that seats only 25. Because of the space limitation, many freshmen must wait until they are sophomores to take the class.

Moving the class online eliminates the space problem, thus enabling students to learn about resources earlier in their college careers and enhancing their chances for success. The WebCT course will include information and quizzes students can use as a refresher at any time.

For more information, contact Rita Wilson, coordinator of library instruction, at (210) 458-7572 or visit the UTSA Library Web site.

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About the UTSA Library

  • The UTSA Library provides research support, reference assistance and instructional services at three locations in the John Peace Library Building on the 1604 Campus, the Buena Vista Street Building at the Downtown Campus and the archives at UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures.
  • The library provides electronic and physical access to resources and services with more than 670,000 books and 2,100 periodical subscriptions; online access to more than 38,000 electronic journals and 263 electronic databases; atlases and maps; microforms (microfilm and microfiche); non-print materials including compact discs, DVDs and video recordings; K-12 curriculum materials; and state and federal government documents.
  • With more than 40,000 volumes added annually, collections include microform access to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
  • There are extensive rare book, fine press and Spanish Texas archives and manuscript collections with a wealth of information on local history, local political organizations, women and gender, Mexican Americans, and science, technology and innovation.

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