Feinberg Library Adds Spaces to Meet Students’ Academic, Social Needs
Joshua Beatty wants to help make students fall in love with the library.
The interim director of Feinberg Library on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus said the changes and improvements made to the facility in recent months have been made so that students find what they need beyond the rows and rows of stacks.
“Students who are coming to the college and are being introduced to the library are looking for more than just academics,” Beatty said. “They need support mentally as well as academically.”
Academically, the library checks all the boxes:
- Information literacy
- Research services
- Textbooks on reserve and interlibrary loan
But more than that, Beatty and Assistant Director Mark Mastrean and others on the staff are continually rethinking the space to contribute to student success.
“We’re the real academic center on campus,” Mastrean said. “We are by extension a significant part of the campus culture — representing and supporting its values, academic tone, atmosphere, sense of seriousness and commitment.”
And wellness is a big part of the strategy, he said.
Special areas or “zones” have been created to support students who need or want to remove themselves from the general library surroundings. Those include:
- The Wellness Zone
- Sensory Friendly Zone
- Reading Room
- Deep Quiet Area
- Presentation Room
- Family study room
Each area has its own unique characteristics or addresses unique needs, Mastrean said. The Wellness Zone, for instance, boasts a relaxed atmosphere with dimmed lighting, comfortable chairs low to the ground, a sensory light board, and original mural art — a riff on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” —by David Duprey, SUNY Plattsburgh’s executive director of the Truth, Racial Health and Transformation Campus Center.
The Sensory Friendly Zone features plainly painted individual study carrels, each with their own light, offering students a distraction-free atmosphere in which to work.
“We partnered with neurodiverse students and asked what they wanted and needed,” Mastrean said.
The family study room is a place for student-parents to come to work and study while providing a place for young children to play and enjoy. Toys, books and children’s furniture was donated by employees.
Variety of Spaces
Coming out of the pandemic, Beatty said that they at the library “recognized that students need and want a variety of spaces. They want desks they can sit at, group tables to work on with friends and classmates, individual study spaces, comfortable chairs and lounge areas.”
To enhance the space even more, Mastrean said they’ve partnered with other campus departments, including Information Technology Services to increase wireless capabilities and the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, which provides rotating installations in the Deep Quiet Zone.
“We want to meet our students’ needs as best we can,” Beatty said. “While that may be mainly academic, we’re also here to help with questions students have beyond the academic. We don’t always know the answer, but we know where to find it.”
“We want to have the facility and resources to make students fall in love with the library,” Beatty said.
— Photos, Story by Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs