Temple librarians take on innovative learning at Charles Library

Librarians anticipated the excitement surrounding the new space, which opened on Sunday.

Sandra Thompson, head of suburban campus libraries, poses for a portrait in Charles Library on Aug. 19, 2019. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

For librarians like Sandi Thompson, head of suburban campus libraries at Temple University, the transition from  Paley Library to a highly technological Charles Library, is both exciting and nerve-wracking. 

“The opportunity to be in a brand new, state-of-the-art university library in the heart of the campus is astounding,” Thompson said. 

“People are trying to be as positive as possible because that result is going to be more than worth it.” 

Thompson recalls having to take a typing test when she first applied to work as a librarian, 50 years ago. Although Charles Library’s approach is new and innovative, she feels the core values that Temple Libraries hold have been the same throughout her career.

“We wanted to do everything that we could to present an education to the people and I loved that. I still do,” she said.

Charles Library, which opened on Aug. 25, was designed with people in mind and to serve as a space for exchanging ideas, said Sara Wilson, the library outreach and communications administrator. With this new space, Wilson hopes Charles will offer more opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate and research. 

The library is designed with 30 study rooms, a Digital Scholars Studio, a 24/7 study area, a built-in cafe and the Student Success Center, which was previously located in the Tuttleman Learning Center. New technology, like 3D and laser printing, and virtual reality equipment will also be available for students to use in the Lorretta C. Duckworth Scholarship Studio.

 “When we designed the building, one of our primary goals was to create more space for people rather than materials,” Wilson said.

One of the biggest innovations Charles offers is the automated storage and retrieval system, more commonly known as the Book Bot. The system houses 1.5 million books and is designed to make book selection easier. 

Users order the book online and the machine sends a bin containing that book to a librarian, who then obtains the specified work. 

Many librarians, such as Learning Research Services Librarian Rebecca Lloyd, are excited about the new ways the Temple community will be able to utilize the information both the library and librarians are able to provide. 

“It’s going to make people more excited to be in a library and then more inquisitive with how can librarians and other staff help them with their research, and to help them make connections and expand our knowledge in new ways,” Lloyd said.

Steven Bell, associate university librarian, agreed with Lloyd, and added that the new library has been constructed with resources that Paley was never built or intended to provide. 

“This is a library for the way people study, work, collaborate and engage with each other,” he said. “This is a library for now and it’s also a library for the future.”

Just as the idea of what a modern-day library should look like has adapted, so has the roles of the librarians. Now librarians are making virtual presences outside of libraries to bring information directly to students, according to Bell. 

“Librarians, in academic libraries, have vastly increased our educational mission,” he said. “We really see ourselves as partners with faculty and collaborators to help our students learn how to do effective research. When there’s so much misinformation being distributed, it’s really critical. We see our role as helping our students become digital citizens.”

Opening Charles brings nervous but hopeful attitudes among staff about how the community and ‌the‌ ‌librarians‌ ‌themselves will adapt to their new roles in the space, Thompson said.

“It’s going to be a brand new space where you have to rethink what a library is, what a library does, what a library accomplishes and what a library can do for you,” she said.

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