Eastfield library services evolve to meet student needs

From left, nursing majors Imani Finley and Cristina Nuño, and Stefany Carrera, a biology major, study anatomy in the library on April 15. Yesenia Alvarado/The Et Cetera
From left, nursing majors Imani Finley and Cristina Nuño, and Stefany Carrera, a biology major, study anatomy in the library on April 15. Yesenia Alvarado/The Et Cetera

The soundscape of Eastfield library is populated with the exchange of ideas from students, tutors tweaking papers and teaching math tricks and the clicking from the 80 computers packed into the front room.

When Karla Greer began working at Eastfield 35 years ago, the college library was a quiet, studious environment that relied primarily on print materials.

Today, as executive dean of academic support, Greer oversees a library that has evolved into the technological center of the campus, where students can find resources and work more collaboratively.

“We have gone from being that very quiet, tomb-like atmosphere, to an atmosphere where we’re a little bit more noisy than the normal library,” Greer said.

To some people, the front of the library may not look or sound much like a library at all. The two hallways at the back of the front room lead into the back, a quieter space with shelves filled to the brim with books.

“A lot of times students don’t know we have books,” librarian Kathy Carter said. “It’s kind of the best kept secret.”

The library has more than 50,000 books, including everything from graphic novels to textbooks that you can check out in the library.

The study rooms, also located in the back of the library, are a regularly used resource.

Last year 2,253 scheduled groups and 7,550 students used them.

Students are also increasingly taking advantage of tutoring services. In fall 2018, 1,244 students received tutoring in 3,963 visits. That’s a 27 percent increase in students and a 20 percent increase in visits since fall 2017.

The library will soon surrender some of its space for a coffee shop at the intersection of the G, L and F buildings.

Library activity increases during finals, with heavy computer use, tutoring traffic and congestion. Computers can become scarce during this time, especially with some classes taking exams in the library.

“Sometimes we’ll have a class of 20 already scheduled, and another professor will come in and need 20 more computers,” librarian Megan Horlander said.

For students who may not have access to personal computers, laptops or graphing calculators, they have the resources provided at the library to help them succeed. If all of these resources are being occupied, it could create challenges for students.

The future change in space also raises a challenge for potential expansion with tutoring. The tutoring space will have to accommodate with the construction, and will be more centralized into one location.

Regardless of space, librarians and tutors want to provide the best atmosphere they can.

“Our focus is just to make sure that we make our space as student-centered as possible,” tutoring coordinator Anand Upadhyaya said. “That means that we’re welcoming, that students feel comfortable in the space, that it’s conducive to them studying and learning.”

Eastfield’s library stays open longer than any library in the district in an attempt to help students with busy schedules that need those resources.

Adding 3D printing services was one recent expansion to the library. Students can create 3D plastic objects from a computer file, in STL format, using 3D printing.

For 10 cents a gram of polylactic acid material used for printing, students can design objects for class or personal use. Depending on the project and amount of printing jobs, average prints will be ready to pick up in one to two weeks.

Horlander said the primary focus of the library and its staff is to help students succeed.

“That is our main goal,” Horlander said. “We are very much student-focused and want the students to have the best of everything.”

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