By Eric Fortier

The multi-million dollar renovation of the Library Learning Commons in Dobbs Ferry will include new technology and resources not previously available, including a late-night café serving Starbucks coffee and snacks.

The Library Learning Commons has considerable upgrades from the previous library. There is more open space that is utilized with approximately 29 computer work stations for student use, including a Mac island for Computer Arts and Technology(CART) students. There is also a laptop lending program, as a student can sign out a laptop for a four-hour period within the confines of the library while utilizing the new Mercy College WIFI Hotspot.

“This is a pilot program of about 15 laptops. It may be increased if there is demand,” says Mustafa Sakarya, head of Media Services. “We will also showcase CART students’ work on a flat screen television in the lobby.”

Other improvements include a group study room also with a flat screen television for presentations, new soft furniture, a video viewing area, quiet study areas, a balcony study area and a new art gallery for students.

Judith Leibman, the Director of Libraries said, “The Library Learning Commons is a space for new technology and social interaction so students can achieve their academic goals.”

There are new resources that students can take advantage of including a new Online-Learning Center for Faculty and Students to remedy online issues. Ralph Stavitz, the Coordinator of Faculty Training and Development, said, “We are here to help students and faculty use Blackboard better.”

Other resources include an Information Technology Services representative to help with computers, a Bibliographic Instruction Room where students can learn how to use the library, and the new Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, which is a new service for full-time and adjunct faculty to encourage collaboration, support pedagogy, and research initiatives.

The Learning Center will also be relocated from Room 115 on the first floor of Mercy Hall to the rear of the Library Learning Commons.

“I’m very impressed,” said English Prof. Rosemarie Murray while tutoring students in The Learning Center. “The renovations are really attracting students to study.”

Students Connie Pezzola and Gia Boulos of the Health Science Pre-PA program complimented the library’s new look compared to other colleges.

“I’ve seen other college libraries before, so I was thrilled to see that Mercy has surpassed some of them,” said Boulos. “It is very engaging.”

When asked about the renovations to the library, student Chris Jean Baptiste said, “I think it’s great for the college because the renovations are making the school better.”

As the Impact reported in April 2009, the Library Café has been an issue of debate among students and faculty at Mercy College. Many are divided between those who want a café for a more “Barnes and Noble” style library, and those who feel a library should be a quiet place for students to work on assignments.

When student Jean Baptiste learned of the Library Café he did express his concern about the noise factor, “It’s a library; it’s supposed to be quiet.”

The issue of noise has been addressed with many private study areas, which can be found throughout the space.

“The rule of thumb is going to be no sticky or smelly foods,” said Liebman. “Of course, we would prefer the students eat and drink in the café area, but the hope is for students to respect that this is a library and to clean up after themselves.”

Mercy College expects that there will be a significant increase in student use of library services. Given the $2 million dollar Title 5 grant use for the upgrades to the Library Learning Commons, Leibman says, “It will be the new go to place on campus.”