Hillary Corbett

Director of Communications, Snell Library

Boston Research Center Receives $650,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Library is pleased to announce that it has received a $650,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement the next phase of the Boston Research Center (BRC). The Boston Research Center is based in the Northeastern University Library and is dedicated to the study of Boston, enabling researchers from around the world to shed light on the city’s past, present, and future. The BRC serves as a place for students and scholars, Boston residents, and anyone interested in the history and culture of Boston to work together to combine special collections and contemporary data in an effort to better understand the past and envision the future.

This next phase of the BRC’s growth will, through partnerships with Boston community organizations, focus on the development of new digital collections and technological systems to empower these organizations to tell the story of their work and their neighborhoods. This builds on the strengths of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, a frequent partner with organizations in Boston and a trusted steward of local community archives, and will allow the BRC to serve as a digital community history lab where the creation of new collections and technology is driven by the needs of the people whose histories are represented in those collections. It also serves as a further iteration of the Library’s work to build inclusive information systems for cultural heritage.

The BRC is also now entering into a new partnership with the Boston Public Library. The Boston Public Library will play a key role in community outreach and technology development by drawing upon its extensive history of technological innovation and active partnerships with neighborhood communities served by its library branches. David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library, said, “We are thrilled to take our relationship with Northeastern to a whole new level and collaborate on preserving and extending the reach of local neighborhood history and culture across Boston.”

“We deeply appreciate The Mellon Foundation’s generous support for this critical next phase of the Boston Research Center and how it forges strong connections with communities around Boston and with the Boston Public Library,” said Dan Cohen, the Dean of the Library at Northeastern. “And we look forward to helping to reveal new insights about our city through the BRC’s network of individuals and institutions.”

Summer Building Projects at Snell Library

Construction of Snell Library, 1988This summer, several important projects will bring improvements to Snell Library.

Roof Replacement

Snell Library is turning 30 years old next year, and it's time for its roof and skylight to be replaced. Work has begun this week on the first phase of this project, which involves constructing scaffolding around the entire building. As part of the scaffolding construction, a crane will be placed in front of Snell Library on Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9. As needed during this phase, signage will be posted to redirect traffic around the work zone and into the building. The second phase of the roof project involves parking a large vacuum truck on the service road between the Library and the train tracks. This truck will be used to vacuum all of the river stone off the roof, exposing the roof lining below, which will be replaced. Vacuum work will happen from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for several weeks at the outset of the project. Conducting this work on Fridays is critical for the entire roof replacement to be completed in time for the Fall semester. We anticipate this work may be noisy in some parts of the building, depending on what part of the roof is being worked on. Subsequent phases include replacing the building's skylight and installing new rooftop HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) units. Specific schedules for these phases are still being planned and are dependent on the availability of materials. The skylight replacement will eventually require the construction of temporary safety walls inside the Library on the 3rd and 4th floor areas immediately below the skylight. Further details about this phase of work will be forthcoming.

 

MORE RESTROOMS!

That's right—we're adding restrooms on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors! The construction zones will be in the same location on each of those floors, directly across from the service elevator. While the 2nd floor work will mainly impact staff work areas, a small section of study space on the 3rd and 4th floors will need to be blocked off during the restroom construction. Temporary walls will be installed on all three floors between Friday, June 7 and Wednesday, June 12. Work within these construction areas will begin on or around June 20. Once the new restrooms are fully operational in the Fall, the existing restrooms will be renovated.

 

New Furniture on the 1st Floor

In the second half of the summer, most of the seating on the 1st floor will be replaced. We have been working with Campus Planning and Steelcase to select and purchase 333 new chairs, 8 new couches for the Hub and 11 new tables. We will also be developing an improved cleaning regimen for this new furniture as well as all furniture throughout the building.   As with any renovation, there will be a lot more noise in the building this summer than usual, but we'll work to ensure that Library users are given advance notice of any disruptions. (We'll also have earplugs available at the Help and Information Desk!)   Thanks to our Facilities Specialist, Ethan Bren, for providing the details in this post.

Dean Dan Cohen Authors Atlantic Op-Ed About Obama Library and the Value of Digital Collections

Photo of Dan Cohen Dan Cohen, Dean of the University Library, has penned an op-ed for The Atlantic about the value of digital collections, in response to the announcement that the Obama Presidential Library will comprise a digital collection, available online, as well as a physical research center in Chicago.

While some have responded negatively to this news, Cohen, who previously served as the founding executive director of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), argues in his essay that digital collections, which are certainly very familiar to most people in this era of smartphone photos and email, should not be considered somehow lesser than physical collections. He emphasizes that the digital Obama collection will be by its nature much more accessible than the physical libraries of previous presidents, because researchers will not need to travel to Chicago to make use of materials. As a result, the research potential of the Obama Library is likely as vast as the digital collection itself.

Dan Cohen also serves as Northeastern University's Vice Provost for Information Collaboration and Professor of History.

 

Favat Collection Name Expanded to Reflect Changing Focus

[caption id="attachment_275076" align="alignright" width="212"]portrait of Dr. Favat F. André Favat[/caption]

In 1977, Northeastern University established an endowed fund to support the Library in the memory of F. André Favat, an associate professor of English education in the Department of Instruction. Dr. Favat had died the previous year at age 38. At the time of his death, Dr. Favat was also director of the National Council of Teachers of English and president of the Massachusetts Council of Teachers of English. The fund is designated for the purchase and preservation of books, primarily children’s literature and books on education.

Dr. Favat's experience in curriculum development and the teaching of future educators led to the naming of the curriculum center at Northeastern as the Favat Center for Curriculum Materials and Children’s Literature.  This center moved into Snell Library when the building opened in 1990. At a time when teacher education was a popular program of study at Northeastern, the Favat collection was used primarily by student teachers as well as students in a regularly offered children's literature course. Longtime Library staff also recall parents browsing the collection for their kids, and children from Northeastern's Call Childcare Center being brought for visits!

However, for some time now, the collection has included a significant number of young adult (YA) titles as well as books for younger readers. As the collection became used less for teaching purposes, we observed that it was being used more by our students, faculty, and staff for recreational reading. YA literature has become extremely popular reading material for adult readers as well as teens, as any Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen fan would tell you. So, we decided to expand the collection name to the Favat Children's & Young Adult Collection, in order to more accurately convey to our users what kind of books they might find there.

The historical children’s and young adult collection that now makes up a significant portion of the Favat Children’s & Young Adult Collection comes from the original curriculum center. The more current additions to the collection represent the best in children’s and YA literature through collection of the major American award-winning titles as well as a popular YA literature collection strong in fantasy, science fiction and modern young adult literature. The Favat Collection currently contains 10,226 titles—over the past five years, an average of 130 titles per year are added. It is managed by Janet Morrow, our Head of Resource and Discovery Services. Thank you to Janet for providing information about the Favat Collection, past and present, for this post!

Materials in the Favat Collection are located on the third floor of Snell Library. Some new materials may be shelved temporarily in The Hub on the first floor. The Archives and Special Collections also hold the papers of Dr. Favat.

A New Look for the 4th Floor

Have you been up to the 4th floor of Snell Library since the spring semester started? We’ve made some changes! Over the winter break, we refreshed all the furniture on the fourth floor, and some of the 3rd floor furniture as well. This is part of a continuing program of improvements to the library in response to changing user needs.

What's Changed, and Why?

Much of the furniture previously on the 4th floor was in the building when it opened in 1990, and it showed. It was time to replace it with more modern furniture that can meet the needs of our current student body. For example, we’ve heard feedback from students that you wanted more standing-level workspaces, so you’ll see more of those on the 4th floor. A lot of the new furniture also has built-in power — none of the previous furniture had power. We’ve arranged the furniture to maximize access to power, although we’re still working on getting everything connected to the electricity. Snell Library sees more than 2 million visits a year — so, getting furniture that can withstand high usage as well as be cleaned or repaired easily was really important, too.

Zones for Quiet Study

Before this academic year, the 3rd floor was designated as a quiet study floor, and the 4th floor was a silent study floor. Last year, we freed up quite a bit of space in the building by moving some of our books to off-site storage and consolidating the remaining collection on the 3rd floor. As a result, the entire 4th floor is currently able to be used for study space. Even on the 3rd floor, there is more floor space now dedicated to seating.  The 3rd and 4th floors are now both considered quiet study floors, and the 4th floor is configured in zones that accommodate both quiet group study and silent individual study. So, there are places for study buddies to sit together, where it's okay to whisper or talk quietly, as well as areas for you to work in solitude.

More Seats

When you come up to the 4th floor, it might look like there's a lot of open space. Why not fill all that space in with furniture, so even more students can study? First, the fire code limits how many seats we can have on a floor, in order to keep occupancy at a safe level. Even if we didn't have that limitation, keeping the furniture spaced out helps keep volume level reasonable for everyone using the floor. With the furniture replacement, there are more seats on the 4th floor now than there were even last semester! We've increased seating by about 10 percent. And there's now a wider array of functionality for a variety of uses.

Tell Us What You Think!

We’re planning to observe how the new furniture is used, as well as soliciting constructive feedback from students. We can use that information to rearrange furniture into configurations that might work better for folks. Beyond that, we’re always open to student input, and we definitely consider it seriously when planning any building or service changes. We want Snell Library to be an environment that is shaped by its users, from first-year students to faculty. Send us your feedback!