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College officials say JCC students need more study space

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A collaborative learning center is closer to being in Jefferson Community College’s future.

At Wednesday’s board of trustees meeting, Library Director Constance A. Holberg and Learning and Success Center Director Rebecca R. Small-Kellogg gave an update on Melvil Dewey Library since its 2011 renovation, stating that space has become an issue now that students and staff are spending more time there.

The conversation about building a center where students can study and be tutored began after the college’s 2008 Facilities Master Plan.

“We need more public space,” Ms. Small-Kellogg said. “We need technology. We have whiteboards. One student suggested we get Smartboards, but where would we put them? Again, space.”

After a third of the library’s collection that had not circulated in years was weeded out in 2011, there was space to add more tables and comfortable chairs, persuading more students to study there. The door count skyrocketed.

During the 2010-11 school year, 92,920 people used the library. The next year, the door count was 111,601, a 20.1 percent increase.

“Every month, there’s always an increase,” Mrs. Holberg said after the meeting. “Something like this could really benefit the students. They’re upset with us because we’re not open later in the day and on the weekend.”

The library’s first floor is used for group study and tutoring. The upper floor is where students can go for quiet study. The inviting format has made students request tutoring more often.

“You don’t have to go to a special room for tutoring,” Mrs. Holberg said. “This makes it so much more accessible.”

Many of the college trustees seemed to agree that a new library needed to be built to allow for a small technology center and better tutoring space.

“This is going to be even more of an issue when we have dorms,” Michelle D. Pfaff said.

Mrs. Pfaff said the college should discuss the idea with area legislators to get them on board.

In a prior interview, JCC President Carole A. McCoy said the learning center would be built near the future residence halls and would house all the college’s books. The current library then would be renovated into classroom space and offices.

Mrs. Holberg said that in the past, there was not enough funding to help the collaborative learning center become a reality. In 2009, the learning center was estimated at $12.5 million.

“Part of the money has to come from the county and they have to bond it out,” she said. “There was not a lot of enthusiasm for the funding.”

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