As I fill out my application for degree, I laugh at all the freshmen who have a few more years to deal with the merry-go-round of higher education.
With tuition raises, realignment of degree programs, changes in graduation requirement and etc., oftentimes the university system is a big debt-acquiring mess that sometimes you just have to hold your breath and swim through.
However, I’m also starting to look back and see what I’m going to miss. Free stuff, basketball games, more time at the SRWC, and taking advantage of the natatorium all come to mind. One of the biggest things that I’m sure I’ll miss out on, though, will be seeing where Mabee Library continues to go.
In a few short years, the library has transformed from being a stale book-housing unit to being a student hangout, where academics and excitement go hand in hand. The floors with no sound except the hum of the lights are still there so students can have their quiet time. But the main floor has relaxed the traditional “no talking in the library” rules.
Now there are group meetings, presentations, lectures, debates and other public displays there. I recently discovered the whiteboard tables. They are amazing. Theoretically, you can write out your math homework and have people help you with it, or diagram stuff for your homework… or you could also scribble cartoons about characters from the Super Mario Bros. games. Also, the library has updated the technology for research. You can text a librarian with questions, or instant message them online during certain hours.
On top of the amazing technologic and social advancements that the library has been pushing, now they’re putting in a coffee bar. At first, I kind of thought “what, the people in the library can’t get off their posteriors long enough to grab some caffeine from the Corner Store or something?” This shop is going to be staffed by Chartwells people, but it will support the local economy by serving PT’s coffee and having staff trained by PTs. Furthermore, it will continue to promote the idea that the library is not just a place for books and dead things. It is also a vibrant place where students should feel comfortable.
That’s what I’m going to miss. It’s not the coffee itself, but that change, the positive effort to keep making campus approachable. Each year, Mabee (and usually Washburn in general) does something to engage students just a little more. That’s the whole point of higher education, right? It’s about the students.
Mabee attendance rates have increased by about 50 percent in the past few years, increasing as the level of primness decreased, showing how many students agree with me.
I will say, as a former library assistant, I think that libraries are nice whether there are coffee shops and computers or not. But I like the idea that one day, students will be able to have their coffee cake and eat it, too.