By Leslie Hamilton, Features Editor & Writer
In my experience, it can sometimes be hard to notice small changes around you once you settle into whatever humdrum routine that fits your current schedule, whether that is noticing a friend’s haircut, the erection of a new building, or the disappearance of a favorite piece of furniture in the library. Noticing that small change often brings you out of the mind-numbing state of your current existence, encompassed by classes, homework, tests, and lab reports – all in a cyclical repetition or slightly rearranged. Regardless of the nature of your ‘slight’ existential crisis, you wake up to realize that you no longer have your favorite couch on the first floor of the library to snooze on, to study on, to split headphones with a friend to watch whatever Netflix series you were currently obsessed with, cushioning your sweet cheeks through it all, or at least that was the case for me last fall.
In April of 2014, plans were adopted by the University of Missouri Board of Curators and released on the university’s news website saying that the Curtis Laws Wilson Library was to be “transformed” in the coming years into a “‘learning commons’… blend[-ing] digital technology in a more open environment than a traditional library.” I feel that a library should be reflective of the user(s) and in this aspect, the renovation is understandable and necessary for S&T, as a primarily STEM university, to continue in producing quality graduates and attracting potential students; however, the question at hand, is not whether the renovation was necessary, but rather, was it necessary to rid the library of (or even relocate) my beloved brown, leather couch on the first floor to make said transformation? Perhaps, this change is what was needed, but that does not change my resentful attitude or “salty-ness” about the disappearance of a couch that myself, and no doubt many others, put a lot of mileage on. While my couch might be gone or relocated, the basic concept of a learning commons, which is designed with intent to promote collaboration among students, is no doubt a good idea considering the stereotype of S&T students being slightly more introverted by nature – which holds true, to an extent.
The library has made steps toward this model in bringing in the 3-D printer and the wall of displays that can be used upon reservation. I understand that the library is still undergoing this transformational renovation, or at least I hope/assume as they were still taking opinions on furniture earlier this fall, I cannot help but find discomfort in the apparent disconnect between the basement, the 2nd and 3d floors, and the back left corner of the library with respect to the front two sections and the back right corner of the first floor. Not being able to place it exactly, there is just something about the space in the back left corner that just irks me and as I said, is most likely still in a transitional phase, I am more so impatiently awaiting a better use of the space to inspire student productivity. Regardless of my personal feelings or “je ne sais quoi” about the floorplanning and the contrasting furniture and architectural styles, I do like the functionality of the furniture, the increased electrical plug-in accessibility, the addition of mobile white boards for problem solving, and the addition of a more legitimate “We Proudly Serve” Starbucks kiosk last year. As much as I hate to admit it because of my couch situation, electrical plug-in accessibility is the most important thing to me and the transformation met my most basic need, and for that I must add that I am excited to see where this transformation goes and if my couch will ever turn up. I understand that there was a bed-bug scare at the library last year so the fate of the couch is, as far as I am concerned, is unknown for the most part, even though the library was found to not have bed bugs present.
All in all, I would like to take the time to take a moment for my loss, that I still mourn to this day or I would not be writing about it. A tweet from the S&T Curtis Laws Wilson Library Twitter account on August 12th, 2015 marks the official loss of my dear couch, wherein they tweeted a picture of new tables and commercially modern chairs – you know, like the ones that you might see in a hotel lobby or something – asking for students to test out the new furniture and let them know what they thought. I do not know the exact whereabouts of this couch, as I can think of a few that bear some mild resemblance, but I will never forget the journey shared in my younger years of my education at S&T. RIP my brown leather couch.
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