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Students give input on possible Chalmers Library furniture

Students give input on possible Chalmers Library furniture

On September 10, students arrived at Peirce Dining Hall to find Peirce Lounge filled with furniture samples. The event, which was open to the public for three days, allowed students to try out chairs and couches and offer their opinions on what the library should purchase. This event was the latest step in the process of planning the Chalmers Library. While construction is expected to finish in spring of 2021, the interior plan needs to be finalized long beforehand, including the furniture choices.

“We’ll have to order furniture like six months out from when the building will open,” Mark Kohlman, Chief Business Officer, said. “So we need to know which pieces of furniture are going where, and how many of certain types of chairs we’re going to need. These are the concepts that we’re working on, and we wanted to get feedback and hear from students and staff.”

A variety of chairs and couches were on display, with each piece of furniture being presented beside others of the same type. Students were invited to rank their favorites among the study chairs, the reading chairs and the chairs designed for relaxation. In some categories there were clear winners — wooden chairs with padding, for example, were favored over those without. In other categories, students enjoyed several of the choices. One popular chair was designed to be an enclosed study space, with a built-in desk and barriers on two sides to block out distractions.

“I think the students really liked the idea of that,” Amy Badertscher, Associate Vice President of Library and Information Services and Library Director at Kenyon, said. “[The chairs are] private, but you’re still in the open. It’s like the nooks we used to have in Olin … They give you that sense of, ‘I’m studying with my friends, but I have a little of my own space.’”

Badertscher considered the event a success; over 300 people visited during the three days the furniture was on display, and more than 270 of them left comments about the furniture.

“What the students really liked was the opportunity to have a say in what we’re trying to accomplish in the new library,” Badertscher said. “There’s still some skepticism about when it’ll get done, [or]if it’ll get done while they’re here. But there’s only so much we can control in a construction project. So it was a good opportunity for the students to try a lot of different things.”

There will be another event on September 19, this time displaying office furniture such as desks and cabinets rather than seating. The event will be geared toward the faculty members who will have their offices in the library to offer them a say in their future workspaces. While the event will not have a place for student feedback, students are welcome to visit.

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