Mabee Library renovations offer new opportunities for excellence

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Katie Wade is a sophomore history and mass media major.

Students who spent time in Mabee Library last semester may have noticed some recent changes that occurred over the break. New offices have been built to maximize student achievement and to accommodate for the growing peer educator program.

Sean Bird, associate dean of university libraries, said that the most recent construction is to expand the peer educator offices as well as add a prior learning and testing office.

“We want to continue to focus on students in the academic world where they meet their struggles and their obstacles,” Bird said.

The recent renovations should accomplish just that as they will offer more space for peer educators to meet with students to provide guidance about classes, professors, navigating campus and strategies for success.

“We’ve already had a space,” Bird said. “But we keep growing out of our spaces because the program is getting larger, which I think is meaningful because it means that the program is successful and we’re providing more peer educators to help [students] where they are.”

The addition of a prior learning and testing office aims to help students by offering placement tests for areas such as math and writing so students can discover which classes are the best fit for them to be successful. The office will also provide testing that would help students at the end of their Washburn career with credentials and certification.

The prior learning and testing office will be of benefit to not just traditional students, but also adult learners and returning students.

“We recognize that there are some students, typically adult students or returning students, who have some credential or have some learning that we might be able to translate into academic credit,” Bird said.

The information literacy suite is also undergoing modifications to be more interactive so as to stimulate more conversation and collaboration among students through a combination of movable desks, multiple whiteboards and electronic boards.

“We want students who are learning topics that have an information-centric focus to be in the library when they’re learning those strategies and learning those tips and resources,” Bird said. “We have a large number of physical resources and we have a number of electronic resources that professors are pushing their students to use.”

The renovations of the prior learning and testing office and the FYE Peer Educator spaces were financed with capital funds estimated at about $48,000. Technology elements were paid for through private library funds and the office furnishings were reclaimed from another area on campus.

The program hopes to continue reaching students through WU101 and peer educators as well as to increase the number of adult students who see Washburn as a viable alternative.

“I know that some of the buildings over the last six or seven years around campus have been built and modified with students in mind and so we have a population of young people who are right here on campus or are very close to campus,” Bird said. “That’s exciting because it can change what the campus can do.”