LSU Student Government president Stewart Lockett and Assistant Director of Academic Affairs Miranda Campbell visited North Carolina State University and Duke University in December to get recommendations for a new library at LSU that will include cost-cutting academic programs and possibly be funded by increasing student fees.
Both NC State’s James B. Hunt Jr. Library and Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library have textbook-lending programs, which Miranda Campbell hopes to bring to LSU. NC State’s program includes every book for every class. Students can scan textbooks and create a PDF. Miranda Campbell said she plans to work with the Student Senate this semester to get funding for this program. Next semester, she wants to focus on reaching out to professors to find out what courses require textbooks.
“It wouldn’t include access codes, but it would still cut costs for students, especially low-income, first-generation students,” Miranda Campbell said.
SG vice president Rachel Campbell echoed her support for the program. She said she knows students who have dropped classes because they could not afford the required textbooks.
SG leaders are considering funding options for the proposed new library. Miranda Campbell said that Duke University benefits from donors, and it is possible that LSU could fund the construction of the library through donations.
Another option is to increase student fees. SG got funding for the UREC, the University’s recreation center, by raising student fees.
“If we can raise student money for a gym, I think we can do that for something that will directly impact academics on campus,” said Rachel Campbell.
Lockett said SG is trying to be conscious with student fees, and he hopes the library can be funded by other means. If SG asks for a fee increase for the library, it will try to eliminate unnecessary fees elsewhere.
“Students can very well say, ‘No, we’re done with the fee increases, period,’ and we have to accept that,” Lockett said.
Before any funding measures are taken, it must first be approved by SG members, the Board of Supervisors and the student body. Students will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not their fees will increase to fund the library.
“Ultimately, you have to look at it as an investment to the academic future of this institution,” Miranda Campbell said. “We have to put that at the heart of everything we’re doing.”
Community engagement and networking is something Lockett wants the proposed new library to encourage. NC State has a virtual interaction room that businesses can use to hold galas or present new products. Lockett said this was a great example of something a new LSU library could have to foster engagement.
“Academics goes beyond just the classroom — that’s academia, that’s networking, that’s education as a whole,” Lockett said.
Miranda Campbell was impressed by the number of collaborative spaces in Hunt Library. She said that it included areas for artistic expression, music and video game simulation.
Lockett felt the same about Duke’s Rubenstein Library and said that although it was a traditional library, it did have an impressive collaborative space. An entire floor is dedicated to group projects. It is soundproof and has an abundance of whiteboards for students to use.
Such collaborative spaces are a must for a new library at LSU. Not only will students benefit from it, but it would be a great place to show prospective students as they tour campus, Miranda Campbell said.
Miranda Campbell cited the setup of NC State’s library as something a new library at LSU could include. Only one part of the library has books, and much of the rest is composed of open-seating areas.
“The idea is that they want to hold 20 percent of their student population in that library at one time,” Miranda Campbell said. “It’s massive.”
Lockett compared Hunt Library’s size to LSU’s Patrick F. Taylor Hall. The SG leaders favored the idea of having an expansive library, and repeatedly emphasized the importance of it being inclusive and easily accessible to all students, rather than only being devoted to the students from one academic college.
Lockett and Miranda Campbell stressed the need for a library that is centrally located on campus. Lockett said the optimal place for a new library would be in the area of the parking lot that is across from Tiger Stadium. This location would be more accommodating to students from all academic areas, Rachel Campbell said.
Rachel said she does not think it is SG’s role to decide what will happen to Middleton Library when a new one is created, but she acknowledged that it may become an area for green space where students can hang out and form a community on campus.