Thursday, July 03, 2014

University of Nevada Las Vegas - Leid Library

The last thing I did before leaving ALA in Las Vegas, was to visit the University of Nevada Las Vegas Leid Library. I had heard it was worth seeing. Built in 2001, it is interesting architecturally, and as always, I am looking for ideas that we could apply at our own library. It was 110 degrees outside, and the sun was bearing down on me, so I did not spend a lot of time finding the perfect angle from which to photograph the exterior, but it is visually interesting, with flaps, that must protect the highly windowed building from taking on too much sun, while still providing great vistas of the surrounding city and mountains in the background.

When you walk in the door, you enter a huge atrium, going up all five floors with computer stations and some comfortable seating in the center. The cafe is to your immediate left, the circulation desk to your right. Off from the central seating is reference - Research Assistance. There are also a couple of rooms for Research Consultation, which are meant for in depth research help, in case students don't feel comfortable going to your office, or your office is messy, this is a neutral space in which to help people. An escalator takes you up to the second floor, though the rest of the floors are accessed by stairs or elevator. The Honors College is housed on the third floor, and there are various sized conference rooms available.

Books are found on floors 3 through 5, but they also have an automated storage and retrieval system for periodical runs and less used books - visible from a window on the first floor. Current periodicals have been reduced to one row of stacks, with six empty rows, that will be converted to student study space.

Silent study rooms
There are various types of study spaces, most still fairly traditional with carrels and tables. The third and fourth floor are designated as mostly quiet study areas, which are closed off from the rest of the library with glass walls and doors. There are also silent study areas on these two floors in rooms cantilevered over the atrium. In these there are to be no electronics (i.e. computers), talking or food. There are about five group study rooms on each of four floors, and I was told that is never enough.

My favorite space was the Graduate Commons. It has computer and scanning stations with printers and even one for printing posters, comfortable chairs, three presentation spaces divided up with white boards, a conference room and a kitchenette with refrigerator, sink and microwave. The graduate student organization makes it their home and it looked like it was staffed by one staff member and a student. 

Most of the library had traditional wood chairs, beautiful tables with a subtle design and electrical outlets, and some comfortable seating. But all the main computer areas had chairs on wheels and there were some booths in the back of the central seating area. 

The reference (Research Assistance) desk is still staffed by a librarian, though when that desk closes, questions are fielded by circulation. The reference collection is four low rows of bookshelves.  I had a delightful conversation with the librarian on the desk. Turns out she used to work for the state conservation office and could tell me some things about the complex water rights issues. Water usage was one of those things that upset me during my visit to Las Vegas. I found out that you cannot store rain water, as the soil really needs the little rain that they do get, and you can't recycle greywater, because they get credit for the water that goes back into the system, so they can draw more from Lake Mead. If I had more energy, I would research this, but suffice it to say - it is complicated. Things have already changed since 2001, so they have made changes to their library and plan on making more, as we all have to.

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