St. Bonaventure University’s library versus its study lounges

Friedsam Memorial Library . photo taken by me

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.—Junior Ashley Ross sits, watching the time pass on her phone, laptop nowhere in sight. A backpack and books rest beside her. Tick. She waits for the strike of 4 to take her shift at the library’s front desk. In her hands, Rhetoric: An Historical Introduction lies straddled. She utilizes the library’s overhead lighting and wooden furniture but nothing else. Why isn’t she in a study lounge?

Ashley Ross . photo taken by me

Accounting major Ross cozies up in the Friedsam Memorial Library at St. Bonaventure University every day to print papers, study and pass the time between classes or before work. She says she likes being able to come to this brick building more than to a lounge because the library gives her different things to do, such as using the computers.

With more than 250,000 volumes and 35,000 electronic titles, according to the university’s Web site, Friedsam sits in the center of Bonaventure’s campus in rural Allegany, N.Y. Three cement walkways and one beaten path guide library-goers to five steps and then a landing where smokers casually cast away their disposable companions.

After passing through the smoke, climbing the final two steps and then opening the double wooden doors, a rush of heated air blows past the student. No books yet, instead another set of double doors awaits. Someone’s girlfriend sits on the bench in this limbo, whispering so no one beyond either set of doors can hear her secret conversation.

Besides the library, Bonaventure has lounges in academic buildings, 24-hour lounges on every floor of residence halls and two additional lounges open 24 hours a day on campus, says the vice provost for student life, Richard Trietley.

Patrick Crowe . photo taken by me

Sophomore business information systems major Patrick Crowe says the atmosphere, consisting of books, tables and hushed readers, attracts students to study in the library more than in lounges. It reels him in four days a week for about three hours a day to study, talk with friends and rent movies.

“It’s the place to study… it’s socially accepted” to be in the library, says freshman English major Jessica Richardson. Movies, television shows and novels portray libraries as places to study and thus created this stereotype for her.

However, Richardson frequently finds herself in a comfortable chair in the Thomas Merton Center, one of the two 24-hour campus lounges, because she needs background noise to study, she says. She has a 3.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Jessica Richardson . photo taken by me

Buried in his Campbell & Reece biology book and surrounded by notebooks and loose paper, Lucas Mosher says he spends a couple of hours in Friedsam every day. The freshman biology major does not care where he studies, but he needs quiet … and his coffee.

Among places he has studied including Café La Verna (an addition to the dining hall at Bonaventure), the Thomas Merton Center and the library, Mosher says the library most closely fits his criterion. However, University Ministries is suitable, too.

With a 3.27 GPA, he says he has scrolled through the online databases for one writing course last semester, but now his library visits consist of studying.

Many university libraries, including Friedsam, subscribe to databases to provide faculty and students with online access to journal articles. The subscriptions deplete more than a third of Friedsam’s budget, says Paul Spaeth, the director of Bonaventure’s library. The library must pay to become a member and then pay yearly for subscriptions to databases.

Universities have begun the notion toward eliminating on-campus libraries and instead relying on online database access, says Spaeth.

The Bonaventure community, however, does not want to eliminate Friedsam, Spaeth says. Students such as senior sports studies major Cecilia Poremsky agree, saying that they still want books and a quiet place to study.

Poremsky says she has checked out books for The Catholic-Franciscan Heritage and Foundations of the Western World, both required core-curriculum classes at Bonaventure. She has used online databases about once a week for four classes, but her library visits typically consist of studying.

With a 3.6 GPA, Poremsky says that she hasn’t studied in a lounge because people walk in and out of them, creating noise.

Junior education major Lindsey Peterson studies on the floor designated for silent study in the library. She says she can’t study in lounges because she can hear people talking, providing with her opportunities to eavesdrop and lose concentration. No one talks on the quiet floor, giving her an environment in which she can concentrate and maintain her 3.95 GPA, says Peterson.

Perhaps if the university advertized the available lounges as places to study for Bonaventure students, more would take advantage of the space, says Poremsky.

Currently, students nap, microwave instant meals, eat, talk with friends in person and on the phone and watch television in the lounges Bonaventure provides, they say.

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