The Massasoit Library took advantage of a quiet campus to improve its space and services

There is a new grove on campus. You will not find it tucked in between buildings or nestled on the outskirts of campus, but instead inside of Brockton’s Student Center – in the Library, to be exact.

New Library Atmosphere

The grove is a new, welcoming gathering space located in the back of library that is populated with tables, chairs, plants, and a glowing fireplace on a digital screen. The revitalized area is just one part of the Massasoit Libraries’ transformation initiative, which began while the college was operating remotely.

“We were opportunistic,” said Vincent Livoti, Director of Libraries at Massasoit. “If we weren’t closed to in-person services for a time, we would have had to petition for the time to get the work done. The Brockton library hadn’t been reorganized in 50 years.”

The grove, conceptualized by Library Assistant Justin Lovell, is a “space within a space” that offers students, faculty, and staff a retreat. Students can gather there for collaborating, and it can be flexible to provide programming and host guest speakers. The transformation has not gone unnoticed.

New Library Atmosphere

“We’ve gotten a lot of great compliments and feedback from students, faculty, and staff. They notice the changes as they come in. It’s nice to hear that what we’ve done is appreciated,” said Lovell.

Livoti and his team sought projects that would bring repetition and simplicity to the library – like having matching tables and chairs throughout. They wanted to give students a new atmosphere and vibe.

The process of moving shelves, tables, books, and computers was not easy. Lovell and Librarian Kathryn Neary were part of the time that led the efforts. With a limited financial budget, they became good a thrift and making the most out of what they had – there was much to value already.

“We were in a good position with the group of new staff and long-standing folks. We were not trying to wash away the hard work that came before us,” said Livoti

“The team was uniquely positioned to get the college to the next phase of information services, which is a big field right now.”

The overall redesign of the Library focused on the way students use the Library; materials students seek out most needed to be easily accessible. This required moving high interest books front and center, taking early college students’ interests into consideration, creating a section of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) books, and diversifying the voices in certain collections.

“Our young adult books used to be located in the children’s section,” said Livoti. “We also wanted to make sure that students see themselves represented in our works.”

The directional patterns of how people use the Library has changed entirely. Technology and book learning meet seamlessly in the middle, and the Library is much brighter than what it had been. More air can flow through the shelves, and the space is more open.

“The Facilities Department was so helpful throughout all of this. Greg [Haberek] and his team were on board with everything going on.”

Livoti and his team started planning in the summer of 2020 and first half of that fall. Their work in earnest began in 2021 and wrapped up just before this past summer.

“Honestly, everything we did while the campus was quiet helped keep us sane. It was a unifying experience,” said Livoti.

“It [the project] ballooned from moving some books around to a curation project, which made us even more thankful for the time that we had.”

New Library Shelves Layout

Students can now browse new collections featuring underrepresented authors and social-justice-inspired resource guides that focus on topics such as race and ethnicity, Native American heritage, immigration, and LGBTQIA+ issues.

“The faculty collaboration has been great. For example, with the Theatre Program’s Play of the Month initiative, we helped fund the acquisition of the play scripts; they were used by the Program and then the scripts joined the Library collection,” explained Livoti.

Livoti and his team’s goal was always to treat the Library like a living thing, and they view themselves as stewards of not only the space, but of a concept. “The Library is obviously a place, but it’s also a resource that extends beyond our walls.”

As the college moved towards more mobile and flexible technology during the pandemic, the Library assisted with Information Technology Services’ technology circulation program.

On any given day, more than 100 Chromebooks and 50 laptops are loaned out to students who may not have a device, lack internet connection at home, or have forgotten their device at home.

“As with the Facilities Department, Frank Hughes and the IT team were instrumental in helping to bring a variety of services on board.”

While operating remotely, the Library added e-books to support its print collection and the college’s online courses, which were the majority being offered at the time. The Libraries’ digital and online video downloads have significantly increased, and their new ‘text a librarian’ service has been popular.

“We’ve tried to make our services accessible in many ways,” said Livoti. “The pandemic actually allowed us to reach students in ways we haven’t before.”

On the horizon for Livoti and his team is taking the same redesign and space principles and bringing them to the Canton Library.

In addition, they are working on a expanding a series of modules on Canvas regarding information literacy. By modifying an existing open educational resource textbook for the Massasoit community, “Research for Life” will help students, faculty, and staff better understand topics such as algorithm bias, fact checking, and more.

“I’m so impressed with the work the Library has done,” said Livoti. “There really is a human service component in our work. We facilitate student success in many of ways, and that’s ultimately why some students come into our Libraries every day. We love seeing it, because it’s a testament to the people here and services we offer.”

With the Brockton Library’s improved physical space, new books and materials, and expanded services for students, Livoti looks forward to growing the Library’s audience when a more normal campus environment returns. “We’re excited. All are welcome to come enjoy the Library.”