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Combined libraries offer hush-hush study space

The Natural Resource Library celebrates its grand opening Wednesday.
Fisheries and wildlife senior Jade Thomason works on homework Tuesday at the Natural Resources Library
Image by Bridget Bennett
Fisheries and wildlife senior Jade Thomason works on homework Tuesday at the Natural Resources Library

Room 375 in Hodson Hall has been quiet since June, but it hasn’t been empty.

The Natural Resources Library, which has been open since June, will celebrate its grand opening Wednesday. The library is the result of a 2011 decision to merge the collections of the Forestry Library and Entomology, Fisheries and Wildlife Library due to budget constraints, increased electronic resources and low foot traffic.

“Libraries are changing like universities and all institutions are changing,” said Philip Herold, research and learning director for agricultural, biological and environmental sciences.

Students have already begun to take advantage of the newly redesigned space, citing its quaint and quiet atmosphere.

Though entomology graduate student Jamison Scholer had spent time on the St. Paul campus in previous years, he did not discover the Hodson Hall library until recently.

He said the library’s compact size made it worth leaving the lab to do assignments.

“It’s nice to have small niche areas to be able to study in,” Scholer said.

Now that digital copies are available for a variety of materials, Herold said people don’t use the physical library space the way they used to.

“People are using them differently and we want to be changing to meet those needs.”

About 120,000 of the 250,000 volumes from the two libraries’ collections now fill the Natural Resources Library, Herold said. The remaining materials were moved into McGrath Library, the St. Paul campus’ largest library, and other storage facilities on campus. These resources can be accessed at any time by request.

He said consolidating the most frequently used material will allow the library to remain more current and relevant to its users.

“It’s gonna have a wider appeal in terms of a range of audiences,” he said. “That should help it be a more vibrant place.”

The Office of Classroom Management and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences joined to redesign the Hodson Hall study space. It underwent a paint job and a small renovation before opening in June.

The library was also stocked with new furniture, computers and printers.

Being able to print his Spanish assignments was what originally drew architecture freshman Austin Young to the new space. Since stepping inside for the first time at the beginning of the semester, the Natural Resources Library has become a regular study place for him.

“I like it a lot,” he said. “You can see outside, and it’s really quiet.”

Associate Librarian Karen Williams said the library staff will continue to look for suggestions from students for how the space can cater to their needs, like accommodations for study groups or its overall environment.

“We want to make sure that students know that they are welcome there, that the space is for them,” she said.

She said she doesn’t anticipate any other branches combining in the near future.

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