Bearman looking to help books stretch spines

Travis Perry

Cramped, stuffed and squashed are probably a few of the words that come to the mind of Alan Bearman, newly-appointed interim-dean of libraries.

Space, he said, is the library’s main concern.

“We want to start the process of modernizing the library,” said Bearman. “We’ve got a real space crunch, so we’re trying to maximize the space we’ve got to make it student- and faculty-friendly.”

A history professor and former head of the committee in charge of searching for a permanent dean of libraries, Bearman has cut his course load of four classes downto one each semester for the next three years. Following the end of previous interim dean Gary Schmidt’s term, Bearman hopes to jump-start the library to become aplace where students will feel inspired and welcome.

Immediate improvements that Bearman hopes to have accomplished by the end of this semester include hanging student artwork around the library and spotlighting new materials in which students may be interested.

Long-term goals Bearman would like to see include the addition of compact shelving, a system in which shelves physically move in order to utilize space more effi ciently.The system is already in place in the Washburn School of Law library as well as the athletic department. Bearman’s biggest goal, however, is to lay the groundwork foradding on to the library.

“I would love to make a case for the library that it be physically expanded,” said Bearman. “It is such a hub of activity that it is bursting at the seams.”

One of the major feedback sources which Bearman has used in designing where he would like to see Mabee go is the newly-formed Student Chapter of Friendsof Mabee Library. Headed by Jenny Mills, junior history major, the group formedaround the middle of last semester and has already grown to nearly 60 members.

“This is our library, so I think it’s important that students have a hand indeveloping it,” said Mills.

She added that space is also one of her major concerns with the library, sayingthat it currently feels cluttered when walking in.

Currently the group is focusing on making connections with the Friends of Mabee Library. However, as the semester progresses, they would like to continueto gather feedback from students around campus and get students excited about thechanges happening in the library.