With library/nursing renovation underway, students make use of temporary spaces

construction tape cordons off campus library entrance at start of renovation project

Construction tape cordons off the area surrounding the campus Library Building at the start of a major renovation project last month. The Library Building, which also houses the campus' Nursing Suite, will be offline until the completion of the project, which is slated for January, 2024.

Credit: Morgan Sewack

DUNMORE, Pa. — When students returned to campus earlier this semester, there were some major changes. The Library Building, which housed the Library, Nursing Suite, a computer lab/classroom and faculty offices, was taken offline so work could begin on a major $13.1 million renovation project, and those facilities were moved to temporary locations.

Staff and faculty from the library and nursing program began packing up their areas in the last few weeks of the fall semester, through the week of finals. Then, over winter break, assisted by campus maintenance staffers, they worked to set up those offices and facilities in their temporary locations so students would have their services available when they returned for the start of the spring semester.

The Nursing program’s interim location is in the Gallagher Conference Center, while the Library has taken up residence in Room 10 of the Dawson Building.

“We all have to remember that one of the largest major renovation projects that campus is embarking on is a temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement,” Gene Grogan, director of business services, said. 

During the week of finals, the moving and storage company began removing student desks, tables and chairs from the Gallagher Conference Center and Dawson Building Room 10 in preparation for the nursing department and library swing space. 

“This allowed our tech service staff to begin moving the large hospital beds into their new location, GCC 109 and 110,” Grogan said, adding that the moving company came back again the week before the holiday break and removed the entire library book collection, packing the books and taking them to an offsite location to be stored for the duration of the project.

Over the holiday break, nine members of the maintenance staff, Maintenance and Operations Supervisor Dave Bichler, along with Grogan, spent three days relocating the entire nursing department and all of their lab equipment, supplies, shelving, cabinets, desks and office equipment.

“You name it, we moved it into the GCC — relocating a faculty member’s office and relocating all of the library supplies, desks, computers and office supplies into Dawson 10.  All the items that were moved/relocated were put into specific areas as laid out by the nursing and library staff,” Grogan said.

Justina Malinak, program coordinator of nursing, and Theresa Baker, assistant teaching professor of nursing, unpacked and set up the central lab space, supply rooms and offices over winter break.

“They created an entire nursing department by themselves,” Grogan said.

Malinak credits Trusha Patel, a work-study student from Academic Affairs and a recent December graduate, for assisting them toward the end of November through finals week.

“She was organized and dedicated in assisting with the start-up of packing,” Malinak said about Patel.

Similarly, Mary Ann Joyce, information resources and services support specialist, along with work-study students, PaSSS students, part-time employees and maintenance staff, all helped sort, organize, discard and package items from the library that took several weeks to prepare for the impermanent move.

Since there was limited time to clean up and move to another building in between the fall and spring semester, they all used a system where they marked items this way:

  • Swing — which meant items going to the new temporary space in Dawson Building, Room 10.
  • Storage — items they would need once the renovation was complete but didn’t need to have in temporary space.
  • Salvage — mostly older items that could be sent to salvage.

“Of course, we also discarded many old supplies, evaluated our book collections, and distributed many books to other campuses, and began to consider carefully how much space we would have once the library was renovated,” Joyce said.

Some of the items they packed up and took to the new space includes the graphic novel collection, Baker and Taylor popular leisure books, and the DVD collection, along with course reserve textbooks.

In addition, some of the smaller collections also will be housed in the temporary library set-up, such as the book and document scanner, 3D printer and skeleton (for use by science and nursing students). “I think the students will still find they can enjoy some of the things they loved about the old library,” said Joyce.

The library also will continue to lend out laptops, calculators, dry-erase sets, chargers and more.

“We'll have a few computers they can use and some tables for quick study sessions,” Joyce said. “The students may not want to stay in here as long as they did at the old space, but we'll be able to provide them with many of the same items they used before, and of course, the librarians are always happy to work with students one on one.”

In the meantime, the nursing program is looking forward to maximizing its ‘swing space’ to its fullest potential in the Gallagher Conference Center.

Supply areas were redesigned for better flow, organization of supplies, and the main simulation lab has been set up strategically to include designated beds for maternity, pediatrics, medical surgical and health assessment areas.

In addition to the simulators, there are tables in the lab space that can be used for debriefing, clinical judgment case building scenarios, and the use of ATI resources tied to lab and skills training.

As a quality improvement initiative this semester, Malinak is implementing scheduled open labs that will provide a combination of scheduled skills and NCLEX questions, and clinical judgement scenarios.

“Again, this will maximize lab use, hone and develop confidence of nursing skills, offer additional practice with NCLEX styled questions for test-taking, and enhance preparation for transitioning into the profession,” Malinak said, adding that she is proud of the department’s work and set up of the swing space lab, supply, and office space in Gallagher Conference Center.

“A key element of a profession and job is to work hard to accomplish something you are proud of,” Malinak said.

During the week after the holiday break, maintenance staff continued to remove items from the library/nursing departments and loaded them into two 53-foot tractor trailers, which are completely filled and ready to be shipped to University Park’s Surplus and Salvage department.

Although moving isn’t necessarily considered a ‘fun job,’ “thinking about a new space that will eventually house the library is very motivating,” said Joyce.

Like Joyce and Malinak, Grogan is most looking forward to the completion of this renovation project.

“I think the nursing students will be very impressed with the setup of their temporary location,” he said, adding that he believes nursing students will be able to continue their studies uninterrupted and the Library will be able to continue to offer the services that students have come to expect. “With respect to the temporary library location, I think the students will miss the ability to sit and work together and will miss the quiet study carrels,” but he encourages them to also make use out of the many other locations throughout campus where they can gather in group and individual study spaces for the time being.

When the renovation is completed, the nursing program will be consolidated into one area on campus, and provide additional room for nursing faculty, teaching spaces and labs, including patient simulator labs. A new lower-level entrance will improve ADA accessibility to the building and increase the nursing program’s visibility on campus.

The library space will be transformed to make it suitable for the 21st-century student. Improvements include an increase of study rooms from two to five; a devoted quiet study space for students; an updated instruction classroom that allows for more interactive class time; numerous power outlets at convenient locations; and book stacks at heights and locations that allow for natural light. 

Overall, plans also call for ADA-compliant restrooms; improvements and additional space for the building mechanical systems, including the HVAC system, which will be improved in both areas for occupant comfort and energy efficiency; installation of LED lighting; a more accessible lobby area; a public elevator; the addition of a lactation room; and enhanced site connections to the campus’ walkways. 

Malinak believes the renovation will provide a cutting-edge experience for existing and new nursing students beginning their nursing educational journey. “The dedicated simulation spaces for specialty areas, a control room, skills lab, and debriefing rooms will provide a robust learning experience for students,” Malinak said.

“I'm really excited to see the bold, clean new modern space,” Joyce said about the library, adding that the renovation is going to be much more user-friendly in a multitude of ways.

“We'll have more group study rooms, a beautiful classroom space, and really just a whole new look that will enhance the space so much. There will be a great view and study area along the windows, and new carpets and colors,” she said. “It's going to have a lot of wonderful updates and finally really compliment the rest of the campus and buildings.”

Malinak expressed her thanks and appreciation for Grogan, Bichler and the whole maintenance staff for their hard work, organization and attention to detail with moving the equipment.

“We truly could not have done it without them throughout this whole moving process,” Malinak said. “They are a foundation of our campus.”