SCHENECTADY – Regarded as a “great equalizer” for the range of student needs at SUNY Schenectady Community College, the institution celebrated with fanfare the completion of its learning commons, a $ 10.1 million renovation and rebranding of the old Begley Library.
For students hoping to move into four-year institutions or enter the workforce from community college, the revamped institution is extending its tentacles beyond traditional library services.
The commons house a cafÃ©, group study rooms, reading space, study rooms and student collaboration spaces, while offering enhanced technological services.
A skeleton intended for the study of human anatomy stood in the far corner of the facility, still protected in plastic wrap on Tuesday.
The facility, which will be ready for students when they return to campus for in-person classes later this month, also includes academic support services, the school’s educational opportunities program, and an educational service. centralized IT support for students, faculty and staff.
âThis is really essential for our college, for the students, above all, to provide them with the kind of 21st century building where they can come together, study, collaborate – and this is also true for our faculty,â President of the mentioned Steady Moono campus. âIt’s a gathering place for them, where they will have the materials, they can come together and do the teaching and learning.
Moono added, âWe know that our students learn best when they are able to collaborate with each other and also collaborate with faculty. “
The 30,000-square-foot facility was built in 1978 and had not undergone major renovations until now, university officials said.
âIt was built for its time,â Moono said of the original library. “There were no collaborative spaces. It lacked technology. It lacked meeting rooms, and it really lacked the state of 21st century equipment and resources.
He then called the building a great equalizer.
âIf a student doesn’t have a laptop, doesn’t have access to the technology, they can come here and in seconds, have a laptop and be able to connect. So that equates everyone because we know some of our students are having a hard time getting home. “
Director of Library Services Jacquie Keleher highlighted the natural lighting of the space and functional furnishings for student comfort, including stools that allow them to sit sideways and backwards.
âIt really gives students a place to be social learners,â Keleher said. âStudies, learning and university have changed so much. They can come in and they can still be with their classmates and friends, studying and working.
She added, âStudents want to come to the same place and study, but still be able to hang out with their friends, or have something to eat, and just have everything they need, and have a tutor if they are. need it, or get someone to proofread this paper.
But at the same time, the facility is expanding library services by giving the program its first space dedicated to archival materials, she said.
It will maintain a abundant supply of magazines and newspapers, as well as its Collection of 50,000 book titles in stacks.
Jeff Aranda, director of the Educational Opportunities Program, which is designed to help students who demonstrate academic promise by offering support services such as tutoring, financial aid, and academic coaching, among others, told About the commons:
âI think this will provide a great space for our students to come and do their work and have access to both the retention counselor and myself. Because the EOP program is based on a sense of community. This will allow us to do it, much more efficiently than what we were before. I love that it is state of the art and, again, it helps us serve our students better.
Construction took about 18 months, according to Patrick Ryan, vice president of administration. It was completed for good last spring. The items in the punch list have since been completed.
There was a slight construction delay at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Some HVAC units have been replaced, but much of it has been reused, Ryan said, adding that the college was working on installing a cooling tower in the building.
During construction, library services were moved to a temporary space in two classrooms at Elston Hall.
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