The new library: time to study?

The fairly new Hazel McCallion Learning Centre (HMLC) can be quite a sight for a first-time visitor. Boasting tall glass windows, a spacious layout, numerous computers and four floors, the HMLC can be regarded a stepping stone in the right direction to bolster a strong academic foundation. In comparison to the old UTM library, the HMLC offers more facilities and a much more visually appealing atmosphere.

However, according to surveys conducted on UTM students and their new library experience, perspectives on the new learning space are a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment.

The big question asked was if the new library had changed the academic culture of UTM in comparison to the old library.

No, stated staff member and student Jonty Misra. The same people that were in the old library are now here doing the same things. The people that come here simply to socialize are always in the study rooms and the people who really want to study are in the basement in the study carols. Misra added that the new library resembles more of a loft-like space as opposed to an academic learning centre, suggesting that that might in turn foster a more social atmosphere instead of a serious study space.

Due to the minimal partitioning between computers on the main floors, students are more susceptible to distraction, as their eyes wander off onto the computer screens of their neighbouring peers. This often elicits students to engage in loud chatter while their at the computer terminals.

The main floor has become a zoo, asserts fourth-year student Alex Garcia, who shares the opinion with several others. Its way too loud in here; how is anyone supposed to concentrate? Alex explains that as a result of all the unwanted noise, he often finds himself joining the crowd in chit-chatting with his peers.

The HMLC staff has since restructured the sections in the library, clearly, in response to the discerning noise levels at the first floor computer area. Now, that area is classified as a Quiet Discussion Area. Meaning, discussions — whether mindless chatter or actually dialogues pertaining to work — are permitted so long as they are within the respectable volume.

Aside from that, there are also much conducive, i.e. silent enough, study spaces located in the HMLC, such as the personal study rooms (which require an online booking) and the computer room located on the basement level. Though never a guarantee, these spaces are often enough the quietest spots in HLMC.

Several of the students interviewed and surveyed took an issue with the lack of food and beverage options in the near proximity of HLMC. The only nearby offering is the Starbucks located just outside the HMLC entrance. One such student, who refused to be named, complains, Its as if were put on a deserted island and the only place we can get food or drinks is at the crazy, overpriced Starbucks. Were students, not millionaires. We cannot afford a five-dollar pick-me-up every single day in addition to the cost of food on this campus. These students also indicated that Tim Hortons would have been a far more suitable choice to place in front of the HMLC instead of the overrated Starbucks.

While the new library may have its shortcomings, it still seems to be a stark improvement from the old library, which had minimal study space, an outdated research system and was visually unappealing. Indeed, the HMLC provides students with an aesthetically pleasing space to both study and research. It is essentially down to each student to provide for a noise-free environment.

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