Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about Olin Renovation


New Areas in Olin Library

What is the Whispers Café?

Whispers Café is at the heart of the campus where paths from all directions meet. Open 24/7 during the fall/spring school semester, it features convenience and comfort. Surrounded by glass on all sides and an atrium overhead, you can keep an eye on the world outside from the comfort of your chair inside. The Café offers a place for meeting friends, for enjoying a snack while cyber surfing, or for studying into the night. Wireless network service is at every seat which includes café style tables and chairs and soft armchairs. Cozy booths and bench seating at the game-topped tables both offer wired network service. Foodservice and vending service provide coffees, soft drinks, and snacks; and a campus police substation across the hall provides security.

With a central campus location and with access to the libraries services and Internet connections, Whispers Café is sure to be a favored destination.

What is the Ginkgo Reading Room?

It's our formal living room where we can host exhibits, lectures, orientations and receptions. When not in use for those events, it's open for study all the hours of the library. Display cases feature exhibits and samples from our collection. The peaceful view onto the Ginkgo Walk opens the room to the outside, while the windows onto the lobby of Level 1 connect the viewer with the library. Wood paneling makes it cozy and a fireplace with a limestone and marble mantle and surround salvaged from renovation at Bixby Hall is a focal point.

Formerly the entrance to Olin Library was located in this space. The new entrance is on the south side of the building.

What is the Help Center?

At the Help Center, you can find information about the Libraries resources and services and check out and return materials. Request and check out DVDs and reserve materials. Pick up and check out Mobius and ILL requests, too. Can't find a book? Copier out of paper? Looking for a journal article but can't find the reference? Trained library staff and student workers are at the Help Center to find answers. In fact there are so many resources available that staff specialize in different fields. It's easy to find the right person who can help you at the Help Center, because if the first person you talk to doesn't know the answer, he/she can find someone who does know.

Where is the Reference Desk?

The Reference Desk is located with other library services at the Help Desk on Level 1. Look for the overhead sign indicating Reference to find skilled staff trained in finding resources.

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The Arc

What is the Arc?

It's a technology center that's unlike anything the library has had before. Housed in a large and very attractive space, the Arc is a place where students, faculty, and staff learn about and use sophisticated software. Users can digitize and edit text, photographs, slides, VHS, and sound to create multimedia presentations, interactive tutorials, or course modules. The Arc offers seating configurations that allow either individual or collaborative work. It replaces the library's old PC Lab, but is a much larger and more ambitious facility. The Arc includes:

  • A presentation classroom where multimedia (audio, video, CATV, networked library resources) can be presented to up to 35 persons. The room has a ceiling-mounted projector connected to various input devices such as a VCR and cable.
  • An instructional classroom equipped with a modem; a moveable ceiling-mounted partition; two ceiling-mounted projectors; two retractable screens; separate light controls; and two wall-mounted whiteboards in the front of the room.
  • General computing areas where groups can receive library or other computer-based instruction, or where students or faculty can work individually.

Where did the name "the Arc" come from?

It comes from the signature C-shaped wall that creates distinct work areas within the facility.

Where is the Arc?

Enter the Arc from the main lobby on Level A.

Will having the Arc allow WU Libraries to offer new services?

Yes. Staff will provide instruction and support in the use of technology, and they will present informational sessions to help patrons find and select appropriate resources.

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Getting around in Olin Library

Give me a quick overview of the building.

Enter the building from the south on the main level. Whispers Café is on your right and on your left a substation for the campus police. Straight ahead is the entrance to Level 1. After entering, ahead and to the left is the Help Center with a long, sweeping desk which is staffed all hours the library is open. On each floor you will find books, study seating, and computers to access the library website and catalog. Also on each floor are copy machines, elevator access, restrooms, and drinking fountains.

How can I locate places in this building?

Several online and tangible resources are available to help. Maps of all the levels are located online; a map of locations where wired and wireless access is available is also there; a list of where the call numbers are shelved is online, too. Online documents can be printed out. Copies are also available at the Help Center.

When walking around you may notice that signs on each level use a different color. For example, signs on Level 1 use a blue background. A map and directory is located in the lobby of each level by the elevator. A kiosk with a floor map is inside the doors which open from the lobby on Levels B, A, 2, & 3.

When you enter the building you are on Level 1. The floors above Level 1 are named Level 2 and Level 3. Floors below Level 1 are below ground. Level A is below Level 1 and Level B, or bottom floor, is below Level A.

The Help Center is staffed all hours the library is open--assistance is available there.

When did the floor names change and why?

On July 1, 2002, Olin Library floors were renumbered. The chief goal of the renumbering plan was to respond to the need to designate the main floor (entrance level) as Level 1. Most visitors assume that egress is on Level 1. Now with the entrance on Level 1, visitors correctly assume that Level 2 is the floor above Level 1 and that the top floor is Level 3. The old number scheme did not match those assumptions and visitors were confused.

The challenge lay in renaming the two floors below the main floor. Planners and indoor geographers promote multiple naming schemes for below ground levels. Without a clear directive from experts, we chose to distinguish floors below ground with alphabetic names from the numeric names for the above ground floors. Level A is immediately beneath Level 1. Below Level A is Level B (bottom level).

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Compact Shelving

What is compact shelving?

Compact shelving looks much like standard library shelving however, the shelving is mounted on carriages that move along tracks. The rows of shelves can be pushed together eliminating the aisle between--this allows about twice as many books to be fit into a given space. To allow access to the books, an aisle is created by sliding the shelves apart.

The compact shelving in Olin Library is set up in multi-row modules. Only one aisle in each module opens at any one time.

Is compact shelving hard to use?

No. It's very easy. There's an easy-to-use control panel at both ends of each shelf. Compact shelving is powered by electricity, so opening an aisle is as easy as pushing a button.

Will I have to wait for other people to get out of an aisle, so I can open another one?

Yes, but waits should be infrequent. Shelving is set up in multi-row modules to help reduce the number of aisles that are closed at any given time. Students, faculty, and other visitors will be given top priority; library staff members should vacate aisles if others are waiting to access books.

Is compact shelving safe?

Yes! Multiple safeguards - such as pressure-sensitive floors and infrared sensors - have been built into the compact shelving. If a person is in the aisle or a book or other object is on the floor, the sensors detect that and stop the aisle from closing.

What if the compact shelving isn't working?

Compact shelving shuts down under certain circumstances, including a power failure, as part of its safety protocol. If you have any problem using compact shelving, notify a library staff person or go to the Help Center on Level 1.

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Level 3

When did Level 3 reopen?

Level 3 reopened in January 2004.

What books are on Level 3?

The books with call numbers beginning with C - F.

How has renovation changed Level 3?

Level 3 boasts the Grand Reading Room extending all along the south wall from the lounge with armchairs in the southeast corner to the view of Graham Chapel from the southwest corner. Soft leather seats and ottomans rim the atrium and look down into Whispers Cafe. Study carrels as well as study tables add to the variety of seating options for library users. After renovation, Level 3 is a more comfortable space with more types of study space and with much more natural light during daytime hours. As on the other levels, fresh paint, brighter lighting, new ADA-compliant restrooms, water fountains, and soft seating improve the library environment. In addition to improving the library's physical qualities, renovation improves computing capabilities by increasing the number of public work stations and by making wireless and/or wired access available in many areas of the building.

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Level 2

When did Level 2 open?

Level 2 reopened in the fall of 2003.

What books are on Level 2?

The Harris Collection as well books with the call numbers begining with the letters G-KZ in the social sciences.

How has renovation changed Level 2?

After renovation, Level 2 is a far more comfortable space with more types of study space and with much more natural light during daytime hours. Glass walls enclose a dramatic new atrium that rises above Whispers Cafe on Level 1 and continues upwards through Levels 2 and 3. Seating is available along the glass walls of the atrium. Open study areas and small lounges are furnished with carrels, study tables and chairs, or soft seating. Around the perimeter of Level 2 are group studies, of varying sizes. Like the other renovated levels, Level 2 has fresh paint, brighter lighting, new ADA-compliant restrooms & water fountains, and walnut hardwood accents. In addition to improving the library's physical qualities, the library is upgrading computing capabilities by increasing the number of public work stations and by making wireless and/or wired access available in many areas of the building.

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Level 1

When did Level 1 open?

Level 1 reopened in three stages: first, Special Collections opened in March 2003, then the main portion of Level 1 with the Help Center, current periodicals, reference stacks and staff offices opened December 29, 2003. The last stage opened the Ginkgo Reading Room and Whispers Cafe in May 2004.

What library materials and offices are on Level 1?

On Level 1 is a concentration of library services including

  • The Help Center, which offers these materials and services:
    • Reference and information
    • Check in/out of materials
    • Class Reserves & DVDs
    • Interlibrary Loan & Mobius materials
  • Public Computers
  • Reference books with atlases, book reviews, dictionaries, etc.
  • Current Periodicals and the Reading Room
  • Copy Room with b/w and color copier machines, change and copy card machines
  • PopLit Collection sorted by genre for easy browsing
  • New Book display area
  • Public restroom and water fountains

What changes have been made to Level 1?

Most notably, the entrance has moved to the south side of the building and a 24 hour study space was added in the form of Whispers Cafe. Service points from throughout the library have been consolidated into one desk, The Help Center just inside the entrance. This level has been completely redone with more seating and a greater variety of seating in the Current Periodicals Reading Room; task lighting is at every carrel and table as well as wired and wireless network access; new shelving for current periodicals and newspapers permits displaying recent issues. Along with these changes, an important feature of the previous design was retained--the view. Because of the glass walls used between areas on this level, users can still look straight through the library from east to west.

To see the floor plan for this level, click on Level 1.

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Level A

When did Level A open?

Level A reopened in two stages: first, the stacks, then the technology center. The stack area reopened Monday, January 13, 2003, following a complete renovation. The library's technology center - called the Arc - reopened in March 2003.

What library materials and offices are on Level A?

In the stack portion of Level A, you can find:

  • books with call numbers begining with the letters L-P covering education and literature
  • the Islamic Studies Collection and the office of the Islamic Studies librarian
  • the Suhrkamp Collection
  • the VHS videos

In the Arc, microforms are located as well as microform reading and copying machines.

What improvements have been made to Level A?

This level has been completely redone. Walls have been repainted, and all lighting and carpeting has been replaced. The furniture is new and includes soft seating, study tables & chairs, and pinhweel study carrels all finished in handsome walnut wood with a cherry-colored stain. A second water fountain was added and restrooms have been enlarged and made ADA-compliant. Day lockers - a new asset in Olin Library - have been added. This level features a number of faculty studies. Finally this level's two quiet studies are available to graduate and undergraduate students.

To see the floor plan for this level, click on Level A.

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Level B

When did Level B reopen?

Level B reopened on Monday, October 14, 2002, after a comprehensive renovation. This was the first floor to be renovated in Olin Library.

What specific changes were made during renovation of Level B?

In the stack areas, the former fixed shelves were replaced with compact shelving in order to greatly increase storage capacity on this level. The open reading rooms feature walnut hardwood furniture as do the faculty carrels and quiet study rooms. Lounge areas, including the refurbished Gellhorn Lounge at the bottom of the main staircase in the lobby of Level B offer soft seating. Restrooms have been enlarged and made ADA-compliant. Carpeting was replaced, and new lights cast a warmer, brighter light. Day lockers have been installed for use by any visitor to the library; in addition, there are a number of lockers that can be assigned to faculty or graduate students who make heavy use of the library. To see the floor plan for the renovated space, go to Level B.

What books are located on Level B?

Level B houses most of the science and engineering collection of call numbers A-B & Q-Z; government documents; and all folios and oversized books regardless of discipline.

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