The closing of the Palmer Buildings has caused a game of musical chairs among departments within the Jane Bancroft Cook Library. The Writing Resource Center (WRC) has resided in Room 103 for about 10 years. But with the closing of the Palmer Buildings, many departments are being relocated to different locations. The WRC is relocating to Room 132. The START Center has been moved into Room 101, which was previously the Col-Lab. The Makerspace has found a new home in what was once the Silent Study Room. And soon enough, the Student Success Center (SSC) will find a place within the space that used to house the WRC.
The WRC is overseen by Assistant Director of Writing Alexandra “Allie” Maass. who continues to maintain the program with the support of Student Writing Assistants (SWAs). This valuable resource serves students, staff and faculty by providing assistance and support for every aspect of the writing process. Appointments with SWAs can be made if specific questions need to be answered; however, walk-ins are welcome. Sometimes the WRC simply works as a cozy place to sit and write. The room offers snacks and has a wide selection of coffee and tea. It’s a welcoming program that aims to support the idea that writing does not have to be done alone and that anyone can reach out for help.
“We knew they had been interested in moving around multiple departments,” Maass stated in an interview with the Catalyst. Conversations about moving departments started in late July, according to Maass.
Maass emphasized that she is excited about having a new space and especially excited to have her own office. She said she and Director of Writing Jennifer Wells work well together, but their shared office space had limitations. With this move, they have their own offices while still being able to communicate with one another. Instructor of Writing Avni Vyas is also relocating to a nearby office, allowing all the professors to communicate easily with each other.
“We’ve been interested in expanding or potentially switching out our space for a while, so for us the idea of switching spaces wasn’t completely new,” Maass said. There had been mention of departments moving around within the library, she explained, but nothing was confirmed. When the opportunity to move into Room 132 was made available, Maass said she immediately accepted because it was the best option for the WRC.
“If they’re going to be moving us around, for us to move into 132 and the connecting offices is the best possible case scenario for us.”
Originally there was a plan to combine the SSC, the Quantitative Resource Center (QRC) and the WRC into one room. However the departments quickly made clear why that would not be an ideal situation. Although each department assists in student resources, each has its own separate methods and philosophies. In addition, space would be limited. Maass said these objections were made to Interim Library Dean Richard Holmgren, who acknowledged their concerns and decided to refrain from following that plan. Maass stressed her gratitude and appreciation for his understanding of the situation.
“Our Interim Dean is great, we’ve had wonderful interactions with him,” Maass emphasized. “He’s been immensely helpful and supportive throughout this process. He was very open to our suggestions and us communicating what our needs were. Working with him has been really great.”
Maass looks forward to being more visible to students in the library as well as having more office space. Holding events such as the legendary SWAffle House will be easier to manage as the WRC can use the space of the cafe. She is also excited to be right next to the Makerspace in order to take advantage of the number of crafts the department provides to students, including making stickers, buttons and 3D printing.
Maass received a confirmation email on Sept. 15, finalizing the locations and the move dates for the departments. The WRC was to move on Sept. 22. This gave the departments seven days to move to their new locations.
“It’s really difficult to know how to prepare when you’re not certain at the time,” Maass stated, regarding the decisions, “That part felt very last minute.”
Maass has one simple concern regarding this transition: “My concern as an admin is that a lot of what I do during Orientation is a lot of outreach and inreach to get students to know who we are, what we do and where we are, and we’re going to be redoing quite a bit of that because this [move] is kind of conflicting with that work.”
For example, “We will be running another SWAffle House because the point of SWAffle house is to give students free waffles and to get students to know where we are,” she said.
Overall, Maass stressed that it’s a good change and she wants to reassure students that the WRC is simply relocating to a more visible space in the library.
“It’s chaotic, it’s disorienting… However, there are benefits in all of that,” Maass emphasized. “This is not a bad thing… it’s just a different thing… We’re fine, we’re just moving. The coffee is coming with us, it will still be there.”
The WRC opened back up on Sept. 25 and looks forward to welcoming students to their new space.