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Ekstrom Library

Ekstrom Library Third Floor Renovation Project: Student Meeting Notes

Graduate Student Council

9/13/2018 (around 50 students)

  • A few students indicated that they had reserved dedicated carrels in the past and agreed that they were dated/creepy.
  • They seemed genuinely happy that there was consideration for collecting data on graduate student use and in developing a space for them. They were very engaged about details throughout the presentation.
  • The locker idea was well-received – no concerns were expressed about the proposed size (i.e., a laptop, book bag, small number of books, etc.)
  • While they were fine with the lockers being assigned, they thought that access to the space should be open to all grad students and not just those with assigned lockers.
  • Agreed that power needed to be supplied to all seating areas.
  • There was a general feeling of neutrality toward the idea of printing/copying than I would have thought. A few seemed to appreciate it but one student expressed a concern that the printer might be noisy. She seemed relieved to find out that the printer was planned for the locker space.
  • For the walls, they liked the idea of frosted glass for the large wall closest to the exterior window. For the other walls, they were fine with the idea of a sheetrock half wall with clear glass above that – they thought that this would help if they were walking up to see if spaces were available.
  • For furniture, they liked the desks shown but wanted to make sure that there would be enough space to spread out. They were also concerned that the dividers shown were not high enough. There should be tall dividers in between the carrels so that you wouldn’t see someone sitting across from or next to you. (They noted that the dividers should also be this high in the proposed reading room.) They did not like the smaller bar height tables shown on one of the walls. They said these had tops that were too small, are not comfortable for shorter students, and are better for areas where people would be talking to each other than a quiet space. They liked the idea of having at least some soft seating and commented that they liked the small wooden tables shown that are already used on the first floor. They noted that the seating arrangement should be changed where people wouldn’t be sitting looking at each other though as they had noticed on the first floor that seats went unused because of that configuration. There was some interest in the pods but they expressed concern about having enough space in them. One student wanted to know what we would do to reduce the chance of bed bugs. I mentioned that this hasn’t historically been a problem but that we would be using wood/vinyl surfaces rather than fabric and that this helped to keep the seats cleaner.

Library Student Advisory Board

 9/17/2018 (12 students)


  • Lighting
    • Lighting similar to 1st floor - LED lights are good
    • Possibility of some built in lighting that can be flipped on similar to ambience on 2nd floor? (tables along 2E quad)
  • Temperature (they asked about the possibility of having separate blue and warm light zones) Color temperature of lighting is important; in isolated areas, provide an option; in reading areas, use softer lighting;
    • Blue light is hard - especially in secluded areas consider dimmable lighting
    • Yellow light is softer for less computer time
    • Do pods have lighting?
  • Noise
    • Worried about noise penetrating glass of reading room
      • White noise system possibility seemed to comfort them about this
    • Pods as furniture “walls” help reinforce no noise
    • Soft seating in a corner encourages noise
      • Move from back corner (southeastern corner)
  • Seating/Space utilization o Like open space – but seems underutilized (why not more seating instead?)
    • Bean bags in quiet space near elevator?
      • Might be moved around was expressed as a concern
  • Aesthetics
    • Carpeting that match other areas (they were talking about first floor carpet) They wondered why there was green in the carpet here but seemed to understand when it was explained that this matched the TILL carpet but someone mentioned liking the greys and reds in the new academic building.
    • Some thought that the light green & blues helped form a calming space 
    • Signage enforcing quiet will be important (framed and official font) – Signage is taken more seriously if it looks official, is formatted consistently and is in frames; freestanding signs are serious; use serious fonts, not comic sans. 


  • Pods – secure with a sense of privacy though there were some who didn’t like the fourth floor pods as they thought they only encouraged sleeping
  • Segmented counters – more open space (40% counter, 60% open) Most favored layout was Quad Axon Option 3 but with no more than 40% overall counter space – they favored an open look. The predominate feeling was that the counter should be at regular seat height versus counter/bar height.
  • Overall they had very mixed feelings on having many tall chairs in the space (i.e. bar height chairs) with one person mentioning that higher level is awkward to reach for back pack though some like the taller height so a mix might be good
  • Soft seating – different, less studious vibe Have soft seating near the elevators rather than in the corners of the building. The arrangement encourages casual conversations which can get loud.
  • Hard seating – productive, accountable
  • Different seating helps different learning styles though and good back support is essential regardless of the seating type
  • Like walled off cubicles for studying – agreed that desks/cubicles needed large front and side partitions
  • Consistency is important - were concerned about having too many different table/desk/seat heights – furniture gets moved around and then a chair ends up at a desk where it isn’t the right height


  • Room specific to grad students (good) 
  • Big windows and natural light is favored
  • Open space feels under-utilized
  • Interspacing pods with quiet spacing is good for “marking territory” as quiet
  • Pay attention to colors that encourage study/calm • Agreed that ample power needed to be at all spaces
  • Liked idea of keeping some collections in atrium space or as a “divider wall” between renovated area and the remaining book shelves (as Colin had noted as a possibility)