A place to work and think

There are large study tables, comfy chairs and wireless computer access. But most of all, there is quiet – and grad students couldn’t be more pleased.

A newly renovated quiet reading room for graduate students was officially opened on Tuesday, Oct. 25, on the fourth floor of York’s Scott Library. The York University Libraries, with assistance from Office of the Vice President Academic and the Faculty of Graduate Studies, completed construction on the facility in late September.

Right: Masters student Ian Samolczyk (left); Rod Webb, associate vice-president academic; Susan Callum, executive officer, Office of the University Librarian, Ron Pearlman, interim dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies; and, Cynthia Archer, University Librarian, cut the ribbon to  open the graduate reading room

“The York University Libraries did a series of surveys and focus group discussions with graduate students over the past few years. One of the things that became very clear was that graduate students felt that they did not have a suitable place to study in the Scott Library,” said Associate University Librarian Brent Roe.

“Scott Library is a very busy and crowded place. Graduate students have different needs than undergraduate students, in as much as they have to sit for long periods to study and read intensively. They have a lot of material to process. Whereas undergrad students tend to be in and out of the library,” explained Roe. “The University Libraries talked to students about what they wanted to see in a study space. The students came up with a wish list and the libraries have been able to incorporate most of their suggestions into the room. Graduate students wanted good comfortable chairs and they really loved the idea of large work tables and focused task lamps.”

The reading room offers an attractive place for the intense library research and reading undertaken by York’s graduate students. The renovated space has new carpeting and a new ceiling, large study tables with task lighting and comfortable chairs, as well as a number of upholstered lounge chairs. At the tables, there are also electrical outlets and network drops for notebook computers. In addition, AirYork wireless network access has been extended to cover the whole of the reading room. At one end of the room are several computers and a printer (using standard Libraries’ print/copy debit cards).

Right: The graduate reading room located in the Scott Library provides large study tables with task lighting, electrical outlets and network drops for notebook computers

An electronic sound-masking system has been installed to muffle noise. The intent of the room is for individual quiet reading and writing. The room can only be accessed with a secure door access code.

“This used to be a very old and worn space,” said Roe. “It was full of 40-year old study carrels and not much else. It now has a mix of lounge furniture, work tables and a few study carrels.”

Response seems highly positive. “I spoke to several graduate students who were working in this space and they were very pleased with the space. They told me that it was just what they wanted and they were very pleased with the quiet,” said Glenna Oleksinski, executive assistant, Office of the University Librarian.

The reading room is wheelchair accessible with wide aisles and tables that can accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. Ian Samolczyk, a second-year masters student in the Critical Disabilities Program in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies at York, uses a scooter to get around the University. Samolczyk is delighted with the new graduate reading room at the Scott Library.

 “I think it is wonderful. I have been exposed to a lot of university climates where the students do not get a voice. This is an example of a modern institution that is very different from the traditional closed universities,” said Samolczyk. “In many ways, the fact that such a place has been created at the University for graduate students speaks to the essential spirit of York.”