Math lab makes learning more effective

Jonathan Janasik, News Editor
May 1, 2014

Bailey Library has begun the process of removing books in order to make room for a new computer lab designated for math classes.

“What we’re actually looking at right now is a change in the nature of what people think an academic library is for,” Philip Tramdack, Director of Library Services said. “Maybe it should be more of a multipurpose space that serves people in different ways with the focus being on teaching learning and development. Maybe what we should be doing is rethinking our collection and focusing more on stuff people want.”

Dr. Mark Campbell, Tutorial Coordinator explained that a math lab was chosen because math is a subject that everybody has to take and is one of the most requested subjects for tutoring.

“We’re trying to better support our math classes, especially beginning algebra and intermediate algebra,” Campbell said. “[These are] courses that are taken by a lot of people and we want to make it what’s called a ‘flipped classroom,’ which is where students work with professors and tutors online.”

This allows math classes to become more self-paced, which is important because often times some students will complete their work faster than others.

Although the project was started by Provost Philip Way, Campbell stated that the math department has helped as well.

“The math department has been very involved,” explained Campbell. “We’ve all been working together to pick the software that the courses will be using. The professors will be working over the summer to get their courses onto the new platform.”

Math professor Dr. Robert Vallin explained that he knew very little about the new math lab.

“Basically, they told us that they were going to build it and it was going to be split into two pieces,” Vallin explained. “One part is going to be a classroom and one part would be a tutoring center, and that’s about it.”

Math professor Dr. William Lindgren opposed the placement of the new lab.

“As far as I’m concerned, if having that math lab meant that we had to give away one book from the library, I would be against it,” said Lindgren.

Lindgren stated that if a math lab was necessary, then it should have been put somewhere other than the library. Tramdack disagreed, and explained that the library is a good place for a math lab.

“This is a good place for a math lab, better than putting it off in some building somewhere which is say a classroom building. It’s better to be here because the people will come here to take advantage of the math lab but they can also take advantage of our collections, take advantage of our group study space, and enjoy the social atmosphere of the library,” Tramdack said. “If we can reinforce teaching and learning in the math lab, this is a resource to help good students get better.”

Dr. Catherine Rudowsky, Chair of the Library Department explained that books would have to be removed from Bailey Library’s collection in order to fit the new math lab. The process of “weeding” or selectively removing unused or outdated books is normal for the library. A similar process is being used now to get rid of the excess books.

Rudowsky explained that subjects like English, philosophy, and history require less weeding because the information is timeless, while subjects like business can be replaced more quickly because the information becomes outdated over time.

Each department has an associated librarian who specializes in a related topic. Professors from each department are encouraged to collaborate with their respective librarian in order to decide which books to keep and remove.

The general rule for weeding is that if a book is 15 years old and hasn’t been checked out, then it will be considered for removal.

Philosophy professor Dr. Richard Findler said that he received a list of philosophy books that he was supposed to help sort through to determine what would be removed from the library’s collection. In response, he wrote a letter to Provost Philip Way and employees of the library asking them not to remove any philosophy books. 

“I said that just because books aren’t being checked out doesn’t mean that they’re not being used, research can be done in house,” Findler said. “You never know what students walking through the stacks will find, and what might have an impact on their lives.”

Findler received a response stating that no philosophy books would be removed from the library.

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