Renovations to Ablah Library offer students creative workspace

It’s not easy making renovations for Ablah Library at Wichita State.

Although a long process, the official opening of Creation Space (C-Space) is scheduled for Nov. 2. The new space will provide opportunities for students of all majors to utilize new software and flexible study space in the library.

“We moved … I don’t even want to estimate how many tons of materials,” said Kathy Downes, senior associate dean of University Libraries.  

The open space adjacent to the leisure reading area behind the library stairs includes about 10 tables, a media zone, an Android workstation, a CAD workstation, a multi OS zone, a sound booth for recording, color printing and a 3D printer. Each zone or station features its own computers tailored to that area’s usage.

“I would argue that there isn’t any other library out there that has the same type of scope or equipment that we have in the same type of space,” said Donald Gilstrap, dean of University Libraries.

Since last week, WSU students and employees have had the opportunity to try out the equipment in C-Space. Senior Ernie Cisneros said he plans on talking to his engineering group about using the C-Space.

“It just seems like a better place (than the lab in the Engineering Building) to work on our projects,” Cisneros said. “I personally think that people will want to come study here.”

Gilstrap said library renovation ideas have been discussed for a number of years, but the project management cycle did not begin until January.

Downes said moving all of the shelving around in preparation for the renovations and waiting for the equipment took about three months.

Gilstrap did not disclose the cost of the renovation but said almost all of the funds came from private donations.

“The space is open to all students and all disciplines, and we think it will help them be much more creative in their discipline because of the options,” Gilstrap said.

The sound booth alone has potential use for students in fine arts, opera, theater and even journalism students interested in broadcast media, Gilstrap said.

Students were involved in the conversation about the new space. Feedback from students and the Student Government Association informed Gilstrap, Downes and library staff about how they could effectively use the space.

In terms of software licensing, Downes said they took advantage of current WSU licenses whenever possible. This means much of the CAD and media software should be similar to the software at other places on campus like the engineering lab.

Other C-Space items include a portable green screen, 6-foot wide magnetic white boards, two GoPro’s and an iPad mounted on a tripod.

Anthony Caldwell, C-Space network analyst, said the multi-OS zone currently has Windows 7, 8, 10 and Linux OS’s.

Despite the plans for officially opening the C-Space next week, Downes said they still want to hear students’ opinions. An online user guide for C-Space is in the making that will offer links to training and help guides, as well as an area for feedback.

“We’re trying to listen and add things as we get the demand and as we can afford it,” Downes said. “We left a number of parts deliberately open because we want to hear from students on that.”