Walk onto Temple’s campus and it’s apparent that the landscape of the university has been going through massive changes. One site that has remained unchanged, though, is Paley Library.
Despite the addition of the Tuttleman Learning Center and an increased focus on online access, the library has been slow to keep up with the increased enrollment of students.
With a new vice provost and greater financial support from the university, plans to revamp the library are in the early stages.
“As you can see, Paley is pretty much the same building as it was when it was built in the 1960s,” said Carol Lang, an assistant university librarian.
Since Vice Provost of Libraries Larry Alford’s arrival to the university a year ago, he has made it his priority to assess the state of Paley.
“I talked to a lot of people to understand the perceptions of the library,” Alford said.
He said most of the complaints received from students were about the uncomfortable study environment and lack of study space.
“[Paley] seems a little neglected,” Brendan Muszynski, a junior anthropology major, said.
“They had all this money to pour into a computer lab but there’s this beat-up, old library,” Muszynski said. “It works, it has utilities, but it’s just a beat up old thing. Old furniture, old shelves, books I find are just missing.”
In an effort to modernize Paley, the university library staff has been working closely with consultants to determine what can be done to the library.
“We have space planning consultants working with us that have been looking at the layout of Paley and where it sits on the campus,” Lang said.
One of the most notable recent changes at the library is the absence of the computer lab, which was dismantled at the end of last semester. The 100 space stations were operated by Computer Services and were taken down in preparation for the opening of the TECH Center.
“We are still under discussion of what we want to do with that area,” Lang said. “Most immediately we will be putting in additional computer work spaces, but it won’t be completely filled with computers as it was before.”
Lang, Alford and others who work in the library system are in the process of examining other ways in which the area can be used.
“We’re thinking about getting a media center so people can watch DVDs, videos, maybe moving some of our current periodicals upstairs,” Jenifer Baldwin, head of Reference and Instructional Service at Paley, said.
Since Alford became vice provost, funding for the library has increased.
“Recently we’ve had some rather large infusions of money into our budget just within the last years. Under [Alford’s] leadership we started new things and received additional budget support,” Lang said.
Lang said the faculty at the library is currently planning to build library collections and services as well as further support existing collections.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2002 report, Temple is average in terms of the amount of money spent on the library in relation to the student population.
The report shows that Temple’s “total library expenditure per student was $524 while the state average was $533, and the national average is $497 per student.”
The continuous rise in enrollment over the past few years has led to a present need to expand resources to fit the growing student population. The report also recorded that Temple had an average of 2.6 librarians and other professional staff per 1,000 students enrolled.
Across the state, the average of librarians and other professional staff per 1,000 students enrolled in a college or university is 5.59, and the national average is 4.43.
Lang acknowledged the difficulty of accommodating the growing population. She said they have worked to strengthen and advance the online technology.
“Our staff has not grown in proportion to the number of increases in the student population,” Lang said.
“We have had to be very creative in some of the ways we tried to make sure we were addressing these needs,” Lang said. We have developed a lot of things on our Web site that we hope the students are using.”
One of the latest advancements is the Instant Messaging service the library now offers.
“Most recently in that regard we started using Instant Message as part of that suite of virtual reference where you can be anywhere you want and ask us a question electronically,” Lang said.
The library staff will continue working with consultants to find ways to develop the library, Lang said.
Renita Burns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.