Chris Glass highlights the features of the new second floor’s Adult Reference area.
What role did your department play in the Central Library’s Johnson Level 2 renovation?
Because the Reference and Reader’s Advisory department staffs Adult Reference on Johnson Level 2, we got to contribute our ideas for the orientation of the Information Desk, the layout of the area, and the technology in the space, such as the dedicated research computers. We also launched new online library guides to coincide with the renovation opening. The library guides are a collection of online information and resources on particular topics, including Boston history, literary resources for ESL students and educators, and health tips. Not only do the guides help library users navigate specific topics, but they also connect people outside of the building with our resources.
How does the renovation benefit the public and the particular group you serve?
We’ve introduced a new staffing model of having one librarian at the desk and one librarian on the floor assisting users, and this has created more engagement with visitors. Because of the bright windows and open layout of the space, users are better able to navigate the shelves. We were also able to add to our nonfiction collection and replace outdated books – computer manuals, for instance – with up-to-date editions. The teens benefit from now being on the same floor as the adult nonfiction collection, as they often use those books for homework and research.
Visitors to the new floor want to spend time there. Before the renovation, they would grab a book and go, but now they spend all day studying, working, and reading in Boylston Common, the community reading area. I like that the space provides an alternative atmosphere to the McKim building’s Bates Hall. If visitors want a more casual, comfortable environment where they can work with others, they can come to Johnson Level 2; if they want a quiet area for individual reading and studying, surrounded by historical art and architecture, they can go to Bates Hall.
What has most surprised you about the public’s reaction to the renovations?
What are you most looking forward to about phase 2 of the renovation?
I can’t wait to see what it will look like when it’s done. The new books and media area inside the Boylston Street entrance will provide a great opportunity for interaction and conversation. Our job as a department is not only to help with research and assist people in using the different parts of the library and catalog effectively, but to also connect readers with what interests them. The new space will facilitate both of those goals.