Redefining the University Library

 
Renderings of the University Center Library space. Courtesy of SOM.

Renderings of the University Center Library space. Courtesy of SOM.

What is a New School Library?

In early 2014, when New Schoolers visit the sixth and seventh floors of the University Center and the eighth floor of the Albert and Vera List Academic Center, this question will be answered: the New School’s library will provide students with the digital tools of the 21st century and spaces in which to engage, collaborate, and explore.

“We’re now coming to the end of a five-year reorganization process,” says University Librarian Ed Scarcelle. Current students and alumni may be familiar with one or more of The New School’s four branches (the Fogelman, Gimbel, and Scherman collections and the Kellen Archives) and its resources—each of which is dedicated to a particular division or subject—which the new system will unify. In the coming years, The New School University Libraries and Archives will be made up of three spaces located at the University Center at 65 Fifth Avenue, Albert and Vera List Academic Center at 6 East 16th Street, and Arnhold Hall at 55 West 13th Street. All three facilities will be open to the entire New School community. An evolving vision of what a library should look like—and what services a library should provide—has led the transition in a number of interesting ways.

First, much of the university’s impressive library collection has been digitized. “Historically, students looked to a library as a place to find reference materials, but now a vast amount of information can be accessed from virtually anywhere in the world through MyNewSchool,” explains Scarcelle. That doesn’t mean The New School libraries will be devoid of books: Frequently requested works will be housed onsite, and other texts will be kept at a facility upstate, easily shipped to any New School location within two business days.

Second, the library spaces will be more user-orientated. “We want the libraries to be more than a room full of books or a lab of computers,” says Scarcelle. Students and faculty will be able to reserve rooms, featuring state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities, for collaborative study and presentations. Some rooms will be dedicated to quiet study, and the design plan includes seating to accommodate activities like group projects, quiet reflection, and reading.

The library will employ 36 librarians and a handful of subject specialists, able to guide students in research. In addition, a “Need Help? Ask Us” function on the Web portal will connect students with library staff members who can share their expertise.

So, what is a New School library? Scarcelle summarizes: “It’s a robust collection, managed by a capable staff members who want to help, offering students the tools for discovery and enlightenment.”

Visit The New School Libraries and Archives page.