The popular Starbucks, located inside Sterne Library, provides an inviting and convenient spot for students to meet and study.
4. Plugs are popular.
UAB’s libraries “are no longer just a place to store printed books,” Plutchak notes. Instead, they’ve become busy spaces where the digital generation can connect with information—and each other.
As part of its renovation, Sterne Library made a point of adding plenty of electrical outlets. While both libraries were among the first UAB facilities to offer wireless Internet, “every student wants to charge their laptop, iPod, and phone at the same time,” Stephens says. “We’ve redesigned common space and shelf space into an area that is more technology-friendly.” Sterne study rooms have been outfitted for group interaction, enabling a student to plug a laptop into a large video monitor so that everyone can work together. Wheeled furniture encourages students to congregate. And then there’s Starbucks, which opened in Sterne last year. “It extends the social network, where students can sit and talk and collaborate,” Stephens says.
Libraries serve a key role in providing access to technology, Stephens says. “A lot of students may not have computers at home. They may not have a fast enough Internet connection that allows them to download information they need readily and in a way that they can reuse it.” Computer terminals at the libraries enable students to download information on flash drives, which they can take home to help them work offline. It’s a long way from the days of notecards scribbled with research references, Stephens notes. “Their navigation of the information resources is much different now, and we help support that.”