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CSU-Pueblo University Library’s past and present

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By Shahrzad Khosrowpour

shahrzad.khosrowpour@colostate-pueblo.edu

When I first started my professional career at CSU-Pueblo back in 2008 as the cataloging librarian, the school was already planning its big renovation on the building, and the library staff was getting ready to move to other buildings on campus for two years. Of course that affected all of us on campus in different ways. First of all, communication among library staff was not as easy as it used to be and meetings were held in many different locations across campus. But I could say the population that had been mostly affected by this move was the students. Although all the services that were available in the library before have been available these past two years and although the transition went very smoothly, thanks to the staff at Public Services and to the Information Technology Services for backing up the Library Online Catalog, an important piece of the library was missing. The books that should be physically standing on the stacks were nowhere to be found.

I found myself being asked many times by students, especially the freshmen, “Can we still check out books?”  The library’s temporary location housed the computer labs as well as Circulation, Inter Library Loan Services and the Reference Help Desk, but no books. Of course all of these changes had been continuously addressed in the library instruction classes, which covered issues including how to use the online catalog to request books and where/when to pick them up. Still, it was kind of unusual being in a so-called library with nothing available to browse except the online catalog.

The library building was first completed in 1965. It is considered one of the oldest buildings on campus, according to Dan Sullivan, the reference and government document librarian at CSU-Pueblo, who gave his services to the institution for the past 40 years. Although the inside of the library, he added, has gone through different phases over time to fulfill the needs of the growing student body and their various demands, the building and the internal structure of its six floors has remained solid since it was first built.

Looking back at the history of the CSU-Pueblo University Library, the university itself has gone through many changes over the years as well, one of which being the institution’s name. It was in 1964 when the institution transitioned from the Southern Colorado Junior College, a two-year degree program, to the Southern Colorado State College, a four-year degree institution, which offered a bachelor’s degree. That was when, after about 30 years of services, the need of a completely new campus felt necessary. Colorado Senator Vincent Massari obtained the funds for a new campus that would be located in the Belmont area of Pueblo, moving from the old junior college campus location on Orman Avenue.

The library’s building was the first built at the Belmont campus. At that time it was fully functional, responding to the needs and demands of students and the community. The building was built on top of a hill and had six floors attached by two extending floors on the side of the building; these two floors were usually referred to as “library wings.” This single building was the only building to house the entire campus back then but as the campus grew and new buildings were added, the building’s primary service changed to library services.

As with many other libraries, the CSU-Pueblo University Library’s functions and services changed with the technological and academic advances over time. It was in 2005 when a First-Year Center was added to the building and some minor changes took place on the first floor by creating an open area for students to study, as well as a coffee shop to provide a little space for students’ social activities. The First-Year Center consisted of rooms for advisors and a 75-seat computer lab. It also had a conference or presentation room, completed with a presenter’s desktop and projector. (It was in that very room that I introduced myself to the library faculty and staff when I was invited to the campus as a candidate for the cataloging librarian position back in June 2008.)

In an interview with The Pueblo Chieftain in 2008, Library Dean Rhonda Gonzales mentioned the library’s traffic increased by 10 percent during the time when these changes took place in 2005. These changes were all supported by a $2.8 million federal grant, whereas in 2008 the library received another $24.8 million to not only renovate the interior building with a more attractive atmosphere for students but to also add about 22,000 square feet of space to the north and east side of the building, providing the library building and its old wings unlimited access between each area. This project also took advantage of empty breezeway spaces underneath the wings to be included in the first floors.

As a whole, this has been a combination of interior and exterior changes to the building, as well as a redesign so the library can provide an equipped facility with better educational resources, such as the Academic Resource Center, Information Technology, Instruction Technology Services and the First-Year Advisory Programs, all in one place. After the renovation the library was renamed the Library Academic Resource Center.

The new building also had other goals, Gonzales mentioned in 2008. She said the renovation will add wireless capability in the whole building, from the first through the sixth floors. The project will also update the heating and air conditioning, as well as the electrical and plumbing systems. Several other safety issues were also addressed, including the removal of asbestos from the facility, an upgrade to the fire sprinklers and smoke alarm systems and improved stairwells.

We all know as part of an academic institution, the library plays an important role in the educational careers of our students, and we are all excited to provide our students, faculty and staff with this new space, a place where they can gather, study and collaborate. We believe this renovation will attract more community users and allow the university’s student population to grow.

Below is a brief description of each floor in the LARC:

First Floor: Consists of Circulation and Inter Library Loan, Café Libro and the IT Help Desk. New books, which are being added each semester to the LARC’s collection, as well as CDs and DVDs, are all located on the first floor. It is also furnished with 55 computers and two black, white and color printers, and two audio-visual labs.

First Floor Wing: The wing attached to the first floor consists of the Disability Resource Office, First Year Programs, the Career Center, a medium-sized classroom that accommodates 45 students and a medium-sized amphitheater that accommodates 75 students.

Second Floor: This floor is home to the Research Help Desk, Reference Collection, public computer stations and two black, white and color printers, a conference room, two group study rooms, a few library offices, the Instructional Technology Center and two English composition classrooms.

Second Floor Wing: It includes the Writing Room, Tutoring Center, Academic Advising, Academic Improvement Program, ACCUPLACER Placement Testing, Graduation Achievement Project and National Testing Program.

Third Floor: While this floor is furnished with the print periodical collection, accommodated with a Periodicals Help Desk, it is also equipped with three group study rooms, library administration offices and other library offices.

Third Floor Wing: This part of the building includes Student Support Services, President’s Leadership Program, Southern Colorado Educational Opportunity Center, Veterans Upward Bound and TRiO Upward Bound.

Fourth Floor: This floor includes part of the General Collection, starting at letters PS and ending at Z. It also includes government documents, children’s collections and two small group rooms, which can accommodate between four to six people and a larger group room with the capacity of six to 10 people.

Fifth Floor: This floor is also comprised of two small group rooms that can hold four to six people and a larger room with the capacity for six to 10 people. It also holds a portion of the General Collection, starting at the letter E and ending at PR.

Sixth Floor: This floor holds the rest of the General Collection, starting at the letter A and ending at D. It also includes four group study rooms that can hold four to six people. This floor also houses the University Archives and Special Collections. (The library’s General Collection, which has been furnished according to the Library of Congress call numbers, starts on the sixth floor and ends on the fourth floor.)

For more information about the LARC, visit its website: http://www.colostate-pueblo.edu/larc/Pages/default.aspx