A New Zoom Space Has Come to the Fogler Library

by Michael G. Dunn

Following academic and technological innovations implemented in response to COVID-19, there was a sudden rise in the need for accommodations of video calls for online classes, video interviews, and virtual meetings. Far from a temporary response to a once in a century event, this blend of in-person and online interaction has come to represent the new normal for our current and incoming students. In a slight irony, prior to COVID, patron need was trending the other way, with a rising need for group and social spaces. The Library had met that need by shifting the miles-long collection to open larger spaces on its second floor and creating larger spaces for students to convene, as well as offering reservable Group Study Rooms. However, like everything else after COVID, things changed, and quickly. So, in keeping with its strategic plan to be a center of learning for the University community, Fogler Library needed to pivot and adapt yet again.

While there have always been silent subfloors with numerous nooks and side spaces, there were no formal purposeful designs for video conferencing. That is no longer the case. In April 2023, Fogler was pleased to make available to students and the community a new Zoom Space for upwards of seven patrons to individually use at once.

Following the submission of an idea by two Circulation Department staff members responding to student requests for a Zoom space, a collaborative effort was made between the Library Advisory Council, the Office of the Dean, the Space Committee, the Research and Instruction Department, and the IT Department to make this idea come to life. In an adaptive and tactful move, the creation of the Zoom Space was made possible by repurposing and reimagining two separate underutilized spaces. Once the plan was finalized, study carrels that were largely unused by patrons in the second floor Reading Room were moved to an often overlooked part of the Information Commons.

The Zoom Space consists of solid and comfortably sized study carrels arranged to maximize a patron’s privacy and allow for a professional presentation in the background for the Zoom call. An IT Specialist as well as a Reference Librarian are within walking distance for any technical or academic needs that might arise. Power strips are also provided to keep devices charged in case a busy schedule prevents prior preparation.

With signage guiding the way, the Zoom Space offers its users the benefit of reducing distractions–such as outside conversations, pass-through foot traffic and departmental staff work–while also being on a floor where talking isn’t discouraged. For the convenience of students’ busy schedules, the space is available without reservation