At the Albertsons Library, books are only a small part of the resources and spaces at students’ disposal.
The term “library” can be misleading. It is largely associated only with studying and books, and though that’s a part of the story, Boise State’s library is actually branded as a “vibrant nurturing hub.”
Sarah Wadell is the Albertsons Library’s first marketing and communication specialist along with Luan Teed, the first outreach coordinator. Up until spring 2021, there had never been an outreach and communications department and, therefore, the message of the library has been and still remains virtually unknown to the student body.
“Because nobody was tasked with those specific duties, we were always just kind of here waiting for someone to say, ‘Hey, do you want to do this?’” Wadell said. “There’s a bias: we’re quiet and we’re maybe cantankerous, and we’re just shushing everybody and I think because they now have these three extroverts, the dean and the two marketing people, we are going to see big changes.”
Wadell and Teed have been on a mission to change this conversation and to rebrand the library for what it really is: a neutral space where students can seek limitless opportunities.
“We think of every college on campus like a boutique and the library is like a warehouse,” Teed said. “Think of us as your Costco.”
In addition to books, the library offers liaisons that Wadell and Teed describe as “underutilized.”
“Every major has a liaison assigned to it,” Wadell said. “Whether you’re a science major, or a biology major, or a psychology major or business major, you come here, and so if you need help with writing a paper about business practices in England in the 1900s, you don’t have to seek out those resources on your own you can work with a library liaison to say, ‘Oh, I know the best databases for you to reference. I know the best journal for you to find.’”
In accordance with the library’s movement towards rebranding, the inside of the space will be physically changing as well.
Currently on the first floor of the library is the circulation desk. This is where students and faculty can seek resources. However, the term “circulation” itself didn’t feel accessible, according to Wadell.
The wall separating the circulation desk will be removed and replaced with a central customer service model. The desk will now be called “ASK,” short for access, service and knowledge, instead of circulation.
The hope is that employees and librarians will have more opportunities to mingle and, therefore, create a space that feels more accessible and positive to help the internal culture of the library, and in turn, help the community.
With the new model of ASK, Wadell and Teed want to restructure how people ask questions.
“Instead of people asking, ‘Can I?’ We want to reinforce, ‘How can I?’” Wadell said. “It’s not like, ‘Hey, can I have permission to do this?’ No, how can we help you make that happen?”
The library hopes to reinforce this theme of accessibility and positivity throughout their space. Wadell and Teed stress the importance of people making the space their own.
With their implementation of a whiteboard and prompts for students to engage with at the front of the library, they are excited to see students using their voice.
“Even if we get an inappropriate comment, I love that people feel comfortable to do that,” Wadell said. “Then we have to have a big upstairs discussion about it, and we don’t want to censor anyone. We want people to take ownership of the space. You are welcome here. Make it yours.”
The idea of “a neutral place to land” was a phrase consistently communicated by Wadell and Teed. They want the library to be comfortable.
“You don’t want to take a nap in your car, you can nap in one of our students’ study rooms,” Teed said. “Bring a blanket if you want and build a fort. It is your space for you to use and to feel comfortable. We are not going to shush you and tell you what to do.”
Along with the physical change of the help desk, the library has recently implemented a first floor art gallery open for students and the public to showcase their work.
“We’re kind of proving to be not just like a backup space but maybe more impactful,” Teed said.
In December, the library will be implementing the “A Season of Light and Gratitude-Display Wall” event. This will include a gratitude wall that will then be converted into a time capsule.
Later into March, the library will have the honor of hosting the Americans and Holocaust Exhibit.
“The library’s inclusion of these types of big things is so important,” Teed said. “In the past the library wasn’t part of those bigger conversations, like the bigger administration of the entire university. Now that we’re kind of being included, we can do all these cool things. I think there’s an overwhelming joyful feeling that we’re all getting, and it’s seeping into the library.”