Texas State needs to ensure the proposed renovations for Alkek Library will adequately accommodate students to remain competitive with other emerging research institutions.
Without question, the library desperately needs new furniture. The seats, tables and couches used now are antiquated in every sense, and an upgrade is very much necessary. The couches on the fifth floor have dirty upholstery, the armrests are wearing thin and the grimy look of the carpet begs replacement.
Unlike the furniture used now, new seating additions to the library should observe the laws of ergonomics and be compliant to the modern use of technology. Laptop rests attached to single sofa chairs are a practical suggestion. Study groups are not properly supported by the overwhelming use of square-shaped tables. Instead, study groups gathering at Alkek would greatly benefit from larger round tables which tend to lend themselves to more cohesive discussions. The dusty blackboards and chalk, as found in the study rooms on the fifth and sixth floors, ought to make way for hypoallergenic whiteboards and markers.
In its present state, the library does not meet many of the technological needs that students have today. For one, Alkek does not allow on-site printing from students’ laptop files. According to a 2010 study by the Educause Center for Applied Research, 87 percent of undergraduate students own a laptop. Taking this number into consideration, introducing laptop on-site printing technology would help alleviate the computer-user saturation at Alkek. This could significantly cut down long lines of students waiting to use the desktops to print.
There are about 11 Mac desktops available for use by students in the library. The creation of a lab exclusively for Mac desktops is long overdue in the library, since it already exists in other places on campus.
Alkek is a clear victim of the university’s mad rush to expand its facilities to meet the growth of student enrollment. Consequently, the building itself lacks definitive character. Its interior is unique only in its drabness. Beyond satisfying functional needs, Alkek’s renovation process should strive for aesthetic excellence to help the building match the attractiveness of recent campus additions, such as the Undergraduate Academic Center.
There are currently a grand total of two pieces of art in the entirety of the library’s non-exhibit areas. These paintings of bobcats are tucked away in the open computer lab area of the library’s “learning commons.” In addition, the library’s walls are in a state of mundane despair and need decorations similar to those found in many public buildings. Renovations could include a fresh paint job and wall-mounted exhibits on all levels of the building to display the work of both professional and student artists.
The inclusion of a café has also been contemplated. This café would best serve students by being more than simply a source of caffeine hits or sugar rushes. A fruit bar incorporated into the café would provide healthier options for students. Because of their antioxidants, fruits are a better “brain food” than anything caffeinated.
To lessen the interruptions that remodeling could create for students, it would be prudent to make renovations to Alkek during the summer when enrollment is at its lowest or during breaks between the fall, spring and summer sessions. Through proper planning and working during the library’s non-operational hours, alterations can be achieved seamlessly and without significant disruption to the facility’s users.
With the proposed renovations, Texas State has a great opportunity to enhance Alkek by making it an even better place for studying and a source of pride for all Bobcats.
—Jose R. Gonzalez is a mass communication senior.