The youngest of Michigan’s state universities (founded 1964), the university is in the middle of corn fields between three small cities – Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City. They have over 10,000 students, mostly undergrad, and though they used to be a commuter school, about 25% now live on campus. The library opened in 1987 and is in a four story building attached to the Dow Doan Science buildings. The fourth story was added on top of the building in 2003. They used to have a food service café, but since they now sit right between the Albert E’s (Einstein’s) Food Court and a Starbucks, the library itself just has an eating area supplied with vending machines. They have great places to study – huge windows around the reference area – two stories high, like KVCC, and a gorgeous reading, reception area on the top floor overlooking the campus. They have 10 group study rooms, lots of comfy seating throughout the library, tables with lamps and electrical outlets, and baseboards with electrical outlets around the perimeter. The Writing Center is on the third floor and the Student Technology Center (IT help) is on the second. They have two classrooms plus other training areas and conference rooms. The main classroom is open for student use when not used for instruction.
They are in the process of weeding their reference collection to make more space for tables and study space. They had a nice India Collection corner, meant for the visiting faculty they get from India. They had specially made wooden shelves with an Indian motif and had gotten funding to purchase books on India. I also liked the popular reading corner. We often get questions about the “fiction” section, when students are just looking for a fun read. The library is full of student art, especially sculptures. In one corner on the first floor there is a sculpture dedicated to Theodore Roethke, a Pulitzer Prize winning author born in Saginaw. They have Ken Follett’s papers, just because a professor who studied mysteries asked the writer for them. You will notice that I have mostly concentrated on how they use their space, as library as space is currently one of my interests in the library world.
I was graciously shown around the library by John Mauch, an alumnus of WMU Library school. He is waiting for the redbuds to bloom, so he can take an inspiring photo of the library and send it in to Choice magazine. I had left my camera at home and have yet to figure out how to get the photos out of the camera on my new phone. I also tried to find the Saginaw Public Library and ended up wandering into a branch as they were closing and ran into another WMU alumnus. Small world.