Mabee learning commons is “not your grandmother’s library”
Mabee will be adding new furniture in the bottom floor, a new computer lab on the top floor, new library resources, expanded seating outside Dewey’s coffee shop and hosting events throughout the school year.
Bruce Flanders, director of the Mabee Learning Commons, said that over the summer of 2016, the building changed its name from the Mabee Library in order to promote the idea of it being more than simply a library. He said that the bottom floor has had walls torn down, new study rooms built, all library materials moved upstairs, and a Career and Life Calling Center installed.
Dr. Rick Hansen, Associate Vice President for Academic and Professional Success, said that these changes are moving the Mabee in the direction of being a one-stop-shop for all student needs and services. Mabee will be giving students a place to socialize by expanding the seating of Dewey’s coffee shop. Mabee has already opened up the Academic Support Center and Career and Life Calling Center, giving students the opportunity to benefit from the free services offered by both, Hansen said.
“A lot of schools, even schools in our area, charge students for tutoring,” Hansen said. “But all of our services are free and they have been expanded because of the Title III grant.”
The various resources offered through the Calling Center are available and designed to help students with choices such as their major and future career goals. Hansen said these resources include StrengthsQuest and various other online career and personality matching services.
Hansen said that the Friday of Homecoming, October 21, there will be a grand re-opening of the Mabee Learning Commons which will be attended by the board of trustees, the chamber of commerce and other community leaders, including the Mayor of Olathe and the city’s fire chief - both MidAmerica alumni. Flanders said the ribbon cutting which will take place at 9 a.m.
Flanders said that in addition to all of the library materials moving upstairs, the library itself is in the process of decreasing the number of books it holds while increasing the amount of relevant library material. He said this will naturally lead to a larger emphasis on online resources, which the Mabee has already been increasing. For example, this year they’ve added an online database of The New York Times, dating back to the 1800s.
With an emerging emphasis of online resources in Mabee comes a push to have a larger and more up-to-date computer lab. Now housed on the top floor, this computer lab will have 54 brand new computers available for testing, special classes, or general student use, Hansen said.
While the actual renovation of the building will stop after the new furniture and computers are put in place, internal renovations to various student resources within Mabee will continue to be improved.
Hansen said that Mabee will be hiring an intercultural and diversity director this semester with hopes that he or she will begin work in the spring.
“We’re really excited about that because we have different majors and different programs that are around culture but helping us with intercultural dialogue, respect and growth. Helping us know what that looks like here, that will be helpful,” Hansen said. “I think it’s a really good fit with our mission and our Christian values, that we are adding that as a full-time position.”
According to research librarian Lauren Hays, the Center for Games and Learning, which is housed in Mabee, now has 322 games that are available any time the library is open for students, various community members or educators to check out. Hays said she plans to host specific game nights in the first floor of Mabee this semester.
Hosting game nights, special events and film series are all part of Flander’s vision for Mabee to develop the atmosphere of a student union. While MNU lacks this kind of official social area, Flanders said creating a space that fosters both student and social success is important.
“We want to meet students at their point of need by making things as current and relevant as we can,” Flanders said. “After all, this is not your grandmother’s library.”
Renée DeVaultNews Editor, Managing Editor - More by this author
Renée DeVault ('19) is a Bible Theology and Communications major from Olathe, Kansas. She has been a member of The Trailblazer as a reporter, news editor, and managing editor.She is also the Administrative Chaplain of MidAmerica Nazarene University.