Brandon Segal started using the Science and Engineering Library in the College of Engineering building during his sophomore year.
“At that point, we started getting into pure engineering courses,” Segal said. “To study for those subjects, you have a lot of peer learning and you study with other people to understand the homework problems, work through them, study for tests.”
That was two years ago. Today, Segal is a senior, first-year master’s student and the current president of the Temple Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The SEL, which is described on its website as a “home away from home” for the students who frequent it, will soon close its doors to the people who used it the most, Segal said.
Undergraduate engineering students need a group-oriented learning environment to study and succeed in their major, he added.
“I really think it’s a shame,” Segal said. “But to be honest, I really don’t know what they’re doing with it.”
Segal said the collaboration of engineering students who specialize in different fields of study helped students succeed in their courses, to “better understand homework problems and study for tests together.”
“It’s pure learning because the curriculum is so diverse,” he said. “There’s going to be some people in the group of people you hang out with, who are better at certain things. In the group of people I hang out with, there are certain people better at coding and other people who are better at design work.”
The Science and Engineering Library closed its doors to the public on July 11, but is still open to Temple students.
“It’s still open right now, it’s just the hours that changed,” said Stephanie Bui, a senior computer science major and a student worker at the library.
The library used to open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., but now it closes at 5 p.m., she said.
Keya Sadeghipour, dean of the College of Engineering, said the SEL won’t close just yet. It will remain open for “at least” this academic year, she said, aligning with the opening of the new library on campus.
“The conversion of the SEL will be to create more teaching space, more makerspaces for senior design projects, and more teaching labs,” Sadeghipour said.
But students continue to speculate about what exactly will replace the library.
“I heard that it’s going to be turned into lab space, another person said it’s venture space, kind of like a maker’s space,” Segal said. “I heard rumors that it might be a graduate student lounge.”
The confusion about why the SEL will close is widespread among engineering students, but so is anger about the closing. An online, “independently run” student petition took off in April and accumulated more than 900 signatures.
“While we recognize the need for up-to-date laboratory facilities, sacrificing the library would severely undermine the quality of the undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering,” the petition said.
“If it has 900 signatures, that’s an entire graduating class of the engineering building,” Segal said.
The petition isn’t the only instance of engineering students advocating for the library. Last semester, Luke Bizal, a senior mechanical engineering major and former president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at Temple, met with Sadeghipour.
Bizal said he was told that Temple Libraries discontinued support for the engineering library.
Sadeghipour also told Bizal that an alternate space would be given in compensation for the library closing, Bizal said.
But many engineering students are doubtful the library can even be replaced.
“The library provided a team environment,” Bizal said.
Bizal added the proposed space making up for the library, the downstairs portion of the building, is only a fraction of the size.
For engineering students, the engineering library was more than a building, but also a community-based learning environment for students.
Lakin Daynorowicz, who signed the online petition, said she’s worried that her sibling, who is a freshman in the engineering school, “will not have the same support system” offered by the library.
But what made the engineering library unique was how it provided a space for engineering students to learn, engage and grow.
“It’s 100 percent a community,” Segal said.
Sadeghipour maintains the closing of the library is happening because of the growth in the engineering student population, a “trend that will continue,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is that we are just running out of space to accommodate the number of students and the faculty required to teach them,” he said.
In the meantime, engineering students continue to have questions on how other study spaces, like the TECH Center or Paley Library, can give them the environment they need.
“Breakout rooms in the TECH and [Paley] library are already overbooked,” Bizal said. “I don’t know what [students] are going to do.”
Iman Sultan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.