The cultural level of a country or city is shown in its museums and libraries, and university libraries are the starting point of such an investigation. One of the world's best universities, Harvard University, gains its power not from its great professors and smart students but from its library, which is open for 24 hours a day and has its multitude of books. Thus, an university library is not just library, but the heart and center of a university. The Sookmyung Times looked around the heart of Sookmyung to investigate Sookmyungians’ use of the main library.
Retrace the Course of the Sookmyung Main Library
The first library at Sookmyung Women's University was the Myungshin Girls’ School’s principal's office. After the liberation, professors and students were free to use the imperial library. In 1961, it took on a more modern look, but there was still a need for a bigger library due to the increasing number of students and books. Because construction costs were huge, alumni, faculty, and students joined together to raise funds needed to build a new library. Through these historic backgrounds, the Sookmyung Main library of today has remodeled and opened to Sookmyung on April 1st. Recent remodeling of the Main library has brought about a reading room with seating for 1,240 people, 74 space allotments for collaborative work, and creation of removal shelves to solve the lack of book capacity in the library. Oh Kyungmook, Chief Librarian said, "The Main library has gone through remodeling to meet today’s changing times. Its basic design motto is a place where ‘you want to go, stay, and return to once you're at home’." According to an online poll conducted by SMT of 355 students between April 6th and 8th, a majority (89%) of students said they're satisfied with library remodeling, so three SMT reporters went to tour the library and interview students to determine how they really feel about renovations.
Newly Remodeled café HUE
On April 7th, SMT went to the newly restored café Hue, which is located in the Main library on the 5th floor. It was quite impressive with its clean and pretty interior design. Upon arriving at the café, cub reporter, Sumin went to a vending machine because of hunger. However, the reporter couldn't buy instant food like Rabboki, Spaghetti, and Kimchi Cheese Doria directly from the machine, but instead had to go to the area selling beverages and bread to buy instant food tickets. There was no indication, sign, or information about where to go to purchase instant food tickets, so at first, the reporter felt a bit awkward and confused. The reporter is sure other students are likely to have had the same experience. To address this confusion, it would be beneficial for the library to post a notice next to the vending machines.
Also, unlike the SNOW café, there is systematic ordering system in which people are served according to the number on their ticket. The reporter had to queue in front of the food counter for some time, which was a bit inconvenient. It would be great if the café used an automatic system that displayed one’s order number so that one did not have to wait in line. According to survey results, 191 of 355 students (53.8%) are satisfied with the new interior design, but some of the students still have complaints. For example, although the interior design is beautiful, there is no specific place to queue for food, most of the low-cost food has disappeared, and the time that the café serves food is too late. In the past, students could grab a bite from 9 a.m. Goh Seyoung, Department of Chemistry '13 said "I am satisfied with the library’s new interior, but tables for 4 people are not really effective. The new outdoor terrace and tables for 4 reduces space capabilities. I often see people leave owing to the absence of a seat. When 2 people sit at a table meant for 4 people, 2 seats are unavailable. It is too much uncomfortable to join others you don’t know." Lim Jihye, Division of Computer Science '11 provided some insight on the new outdoor terrace. She said, "Once the weather becomes very hot like in summer or very cold like in winter, we can’t use the outdoor terrace area. Still, I am satisfied with the new outdoor terrace right now because we can use it to enjoy the cool Spring breeze." There are more important problems besides a beautiful interior design.
Welcome to a Fresh Study Place, Creativity & Collaboration Plaza (CC Plaza)
What do you think of studying? Most of us would say hard, stiff, and formal. Indeed, study can be boring, but if you study in a fresh free environment, your feelings of burden could be reduced and your creativity could increase. Eunchae the cub reporter of SMT visited the CC Plaza on the library’s 5th floor. Chief Librarian said, “CC Plaza was the title selected from contest submissions. It is my hope that various major students merge and develop creativity here on the 5th floor CC Plaza.” CC Plaza has several distinct sections: a theme book shelf, Sangsang booth, Sangsang lounge, and Think ma-ru. The theme book shelf offers students a variety of books classified by type. There are also tables where students can study and read the books. Lee Minson, School of Communication & Media ’10, said, “The facilities are clean and cool, and it is very convenient that the books are classified by type. I can easily find the book I want. However, sound from the Think ma-ru door is so loud, and the number of tables in this section is quite limited. Moreover, there are only 4 outlets per 6-person table.” Sangsang booths are created to look like a house. There are two types of booths in this section: one is the typical table and chair style while the other is ma-ru form. It seems to be great for group homework, but Sangsang booths must be reserved. Do you seek a wider area in which to read? Then, look for Sangsang Lounge located at the CC Plaza entrance. Sangsang Lounge is a room for reading books, doing tasks, or participating in group work freely. On the huge desk in the middle of the room, there are various laptops, books, and writing pads. Woo Youngeun, Division of Child Welfare & Studies ’15, said, “Despite the strong odor of being new, the area is very broad and fresh. Also, many people are able to gather there, which is great for group tasks.” Many students study in the building. Sometimes, studying outside in the open air helps your mental health. At that time, consider visiting Think ma-ru. Many beautiful flowers and its wonderful scenery will be there to greet you, and you will surely feel free and energetic. In Think ma-ru, the chairs and desks are arranged in the same manner as those in Sangsang Booth. Benches are also placed there for taking pictures on and just to enjoy a break. Choi Jieun, Division of Chinese Language & Literature ’14, said, “The scenery is so beautiful. I only used to study indoors, but after visiting this outdoor area, I feel the outdoor is a great place to uplift my mood. Unfortunately, I can’t use it in certain seasons and due to certain weather conditions.” After the using CC Plaza, the reporters agreed that the place is refreshing and adds to creativity. However, use of space in the CC Plaza needs addressing. Survey results found that students who were unsatisfied with the renovated library (42%) complained most about the use of space. The reporters felt CC Plaza needs more tables and chairs in order to enable more students to make use of the area.
Finding a Space to Study
Like the Sangsang Booths, the group study room at the CC Plaza on the 5th floor is new. Jiho, the cub reporter of SMT, visited that place. It has four rooms for students who are working on group projects. The group study rooms are equipped with TVs so that students can better prepare for their presentation and walls made of white boards. These are wonderful additions because students are able to speak normally rather than quietly like they need to do at cafés. All rooms have a capacity for six people, but often there is only one or there are two people using the large rooms. Students must reserve the rooms, but there is no control over the number of students when registering for a room. Group study rooms can be reserved up to 3 days in advance using the Smart Sookmyung App’s library option and are very popular with students because they enable students to study and prepare homework together. Regrettably, some students reserve the room solely for themselves. Park Sukyoung, Division of Chinese Language & Literature ’15, said, ”There are students who use rooms meant for 15 person by themselves” and she added, “I guess they do this because our school doesn’t have enough study spaces.” Even though the school has just completed much needed renovations, students still feel more is needed.
On the 6th floor, a common reading room and a concentration reading room have also newly appeared. You Heeji, Division of Business Administration ’14, said, ”I am satisfied with the 6th floor study spaces because as soon as I borrow a book, I can read it. I don’t have to go down to the basement reading room.” The common reading room looks like a condensed version of the library’s 3rd floor reading room, which is more spacious and lighter. When SMT reporter entered into the room, she found it packed with students and no empty seats. The common reading room contains a “rest” area. However, when the reporter entered the area, there were no seats available because individual students were taking up 2 person slots. If students want a rest, they should go home. The reporter was not really criticizing the rest area itself, but the monopoly of seats. Because many students sleep in the rest area, students who really need a rest cannot use the area and students who wish to study do not have access to seats. In terms of the common reading room’s general usage, there is still a lack of seating. This problem was also happening in the concentration reading room. The concentration reading room is contained within a glass wall and every seat is separated by dividers. Nevertheless, it has its share of problems. Once students have completed their homework, unless they checkout of the area, the space is still occupied officially. Moreover, some students merely leave their belongings there while they go out of the area.
After Touring the Library’s Renovations
Sookmyung Women's University Main Library has continuously changed to meet the needs of students and changing times. As the three SMT reporters toured about the remodeled sections of the library, they heard various stories about the library and also found inconveniences. Above all, according to the SMT survey, although about half of students are satisfied with the changes, 121 (34%) students do not fully comprehend the changes or how to make use of them. The library needs to publicize its changes to enable students to make good use of the new facilities. An University Library is the heart of an university, so Sookmyung Women's University library should also boost and vitalize Sookmyungians.