10-year-old library changes with the times

The state-of-the-art Mulva Library at St. Norbert College in De Pere marks its 10th anniversary...
The state-of-the-art Mulva Library at St. Norbert College in De Pere marks its 10th anniversary in September, 2019 (WBAY photo)(WBAY)
Published: Sep. 6, 2019 at 7:53 PM CDT
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St. Norbert College in De Pere is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its state-of-the-art Mulva Library this month. Even over the last decade, the library continues to evolve.

If you're middle-aged and haven't been to a library in a while, chances are you would be surprised inside the Mulva Library.

"A good library today is not your grandma's library," library director Kristin Vogel said. "Nothing against grandmas, but that shushing, that quiet, that sense of policing is very different than what a lot of people experienced in their childhood."

Vogel says it's a new era for libraries around the country.

"They've changed this first floor so many times since I've been here just because of different student needs, and anything that we really want they are willing to give us," Vogel said.

"We still have collections, but it's very much electronic collections as opposed to print and physical collections, so sort of like an iceberg, what you see in our building is sort of the tip of the iceberg and the rest is all electronic content that we pay for."

With four levels and not as many books taking up space, the library offers students study rooms, a research center and a writing center, along with a TV and audio student and a cafe.

Compared to years ago, it's a much more social environment with collaboration zones throughout.

"Used to be that learning was considered a very solitary activity -- that's why you had all the carrels and the little cubbies where people would be -- and now we know the active talking through content actually helps us cement it in our memory more, and so we need to evolve the space to be more comfortable," said Vogel.

On the second floor, a display pays tribute to the library's past, where things like card catalogs are now considered relics.

"There was so much alphabetizing that had to be done by hand, so that was a device that staff would use," Vogel explained.

It was a part of grandma's library.