May 07, 2021

UM extends research aid Technology, reference queries answered at new area in library

ORONO – Academic life just got easier for University of Maine students and researchers.

They now can get help with both print and electronic resources at a central area on the first floor of Fogler Library called the “Information Commons.”

Reference librarians will provide guidance on how to write and research a paper or report, while technology experts will offer assistance on how to produce the document, presentation or Web site.

“Students here have one-stop shopping,” said Nancy Lewis, head of the reference department and coordinator of the project, which will include a central desk to be shared by reference librarians and technology experts.

A sign with a giant question mark hangs from the ceiling, denoting the new desk and the large, open space in which computer workstations and furniture have been rearranged to make it more convenient for students to work together in groups or individually.

Previously, Lewis said, the reference librarian would have helped students with their research and writing questions and then sent them down to the other end of the room to have their technology questions answered by experts from that division.

“Now the two departments are working together,” she said. “We’re putting students first. They tell us what they need, and we figure out how – and who best – to help them.”

Joyce Rumery, dean of libraries, said the project’s $28,000 price tag included the cost of a new central desk and some round tables, as well as new telecommunications wiring.

Other universities across the country have created similar spaces. “It speaks to the integration of technology into everyone’s work,” she said.

The new setup has been working well, Lewis said. Some students have noticed the change, while others have commented on the additional computer workstations that have been brought in as part of the project. Eventually the area will contain 67 computers.

“Students seem appreciative,” said Lewis, noting that the two departments are enjoying the new partnership.

“Things are always better when you work cooperatively,” she said.

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