The new library project promotion
The new library project was promoted to solve the space shortage problem of the Central Library. The Central Library was established in 1979 and was built to contain 2 million volumes per 10,000 students. However, the volumes grew larger in numbers, which accordingly, exceeded its original fixed scale by 180% in about 30 years, and the number of students grew as well. In 2001, a year after the project promotion, the Yonsei Univ. Library conducted a survey on a new library construction and received 184 responses (8 professors and 176 students) from the faculties and the students. There were 38 positive responses among 79 responses about the model construction of the new library. The students also suggested many things about the complaints on the survey as it is shown in the graph on the right. The graph shows that the Central Library not only was short in space for materials but also lacked in numbers of study cubicles, study rooms, multimedia facilities, and resting spaces.
The project was also promoted to improve the study environment. Yonsei students felt that Yonsei was not meeting their needs for a pleasant academic environment within their school libraries. The Central Library has been going through ageing problems and as a result, the conditions of study cubicles and toilets were getting worse. Basically, the library’s fundamental services were not pleasing students and the new library project aimed to meet students’ needs of a satiable environment for their academic lives.
Basic goals of the new library projects are 1. an expression of history and symbolism of the university, 2. a future-oriented academic information center, 3. a high-tech library to accommodate the multimedia environment, 4. a library that supports the research projects of the university, and 5. a library that fully meets the need of space.
The promotion process
During the seven years of construction the library underwent changes with three different Presidents. The first President Report was to Kim Woo-sik (14th Pres. of Yonsei Univ.) in 2001. It included the new library’s basic construction plans, and interior design and concept examples from domestic and foreign university libraries. However, the project was postponed for a year because President Kim suddenly left the school and went to the Blue House as chief secretary. The next President Jung Chang-young (15th Pres. of Yonsei Univ.) made amendments to the new library project. He reduced a few floors of the new library.
The major change was made when Kim Han-joong (16th Pres. of Yonsei Univ.) took over the presidency. He suspended all the new construction businesses that were going on the campus at that time. His rationale for such sudden suspension was to freeze the school budget. With that, the construction of the second Gwangbok Hall, the one that was planned to accommodate the law library, stopped as well. The establishment of the law library was inevitable since the launch of the law school and hence, the Yonsei Samsung Library lent its fifth floor to the law library for two years.
Such fact was not known and not well explained to the students and thus caused numerous misconceptions and rumors about the purpose of the new library. A number of students were disturbed as they thought the new library was being built to support the academics of students of Col. of Law. Although the misunderstandings among students cleared up, it did not look either hopeful or helpful to calm students down. If the construction of the second Gwangbok Hall is to be postponed indefinitely, the law library will be staying in the new library for longer than originally planned. This might upset students and lead them to stand against the school for unfair privileges to certain colleges. To address this issue, President Kim told the school to remodel the Central Library with the budget that was originally planned to build the second Gwangbok Hall.
Three concepts of the new library
The Yonsei Samsung Library provides Yonsei students with three different concepts of libraries and two convenient services. Academic Information Center faculties benchmarked the building designs and concepts from a number of other university libraries. Their benchmarking trips were to universities not only in Korea, but also in America, England, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Ubiquitous Library: Any desired information and services are accessible to all users at any place within the building due to the advanced IT facilities. The wireless LAN is installed throughout the building and it offers high-speed internet access anywhere. Then, there is a Radio-frequency identification (RFID) card. If students have their student ID cards, they can easily use any personalized services and information provided by the library.
Cultural Library: U-Lounge provides users with high technology equipments of the most advanced design. Students can enjoy abundant digital contents such as IPTV, UCC video clips, movies, digital book, and electronic newspapers.
Convenient Library: Many spaces and services are specially designed for different purpose of uses. There are various types of study rooms, seminar rooms, and meeting rooms of different sizes. The library also has indoor gardens and a roof garden as resting spaces for users.
Research Consultation: The Yonsei Samsung Library is the first university library to provide this service in Korea. The professional librarians who have degrees in various fields of studies offer academic communication through helping lecture developments, providing education in information research, and giving academic consultation.
One-stop Service: The Integrated Service Center of the U-Lounge provides all the fundamental services. Document copying, material returning, reserved book lending, and pass-issuing can be done in one place.
One connected complex
Many arguments arose among the faculties of the Yonsei Univ. Library. The issue was the different concepts for the two school libraries, the Central Library and the Yonsei Samsung Library. The faculties did not agree on separating the two libraries structurally. Connecting the two libraries and creating a complex were their conclusions. Relying on the student survey conducted earlier, the new library was decided to supply what the Central Library lacked and what the students complained about the most, such as multimedia facilities, study cubicles, and computers. Therefore, high-technology media equipments and IT facilities were centralized in the new library. In conclusion, the Central Library is still the traditional library holding most of the humanities materials, while the Yonsei Samsung Library is a high-technology IT library with science & technology materials. However, the two libraries have been reconstructed to become one for students to easily come and go by connecting the 1st floor of the Central Library to the lower level of the new library.
The benefits, to share or not
The new library (33,000m2) is larger than the National Assembly Library. Yonsei’s new library is distinguished not only by its size, but also by its high-technological facilities. While Yonsei students could proudly list the best features of their new library, some asks, “Are we not supposed to share all these benefits with outsiders?” To this query, Yi Dae-hyung (Librarian/Supervisor of Personnel and Facility Services, Yonsei Univ. Library) answers as follows. “Our university is a private school, which means that it is actually not easy to share facilities with people from outside the school. Most of all, students do not want this. The resources are limited in this library and are only enough for the students.” In other countries, some universities own hundreds of libraries. Those universities even market to the public to use their libraries. This is extremely rare and restrictive in Korea, especially in private universities like Yonsei.
However, Yonsei Univ. Libraries did start new services to share all these great benefits: since the beginning of this semester, they eased the admission rules to allow more users from outside the school. Originally, access to the library was restricted to outsiders. Now, the library issues a ‘user integrated service’ pass to alumni so that they can use the libraries as well. People from outside the school also can enjoy the facilities and services that we provide. They can get a one-day pass. In this manner, alumni and outsiders now have access to our libraries, but we do the least amount of marketing to share the benefits. Knowing how to share our benefits and privileges is significant, but it is true that less sharing can actually provide students with a better academic environment and more abundant resources. The Yonsei Univ. Library serves an important role to listen to the students and the outsiders to offer a balanced service.
Its contribution to Yonsei
The Yonsei Samsung Library is the result of a successful benchmarking from libraries of world-renown universities. However, Yonsei Univ. faculties are proud to establish the first university in the world that utilizes a ubiquitous technology in the library. “This new library will contribute to the academic environment of Yonsei students as it offers easy and direct access to any information and services the students require anywhere in the library. It also is a good source of public relations for Yonsei Univ.,” says Yi. Many of us seem to be expecting the new library to bring about and make a large contribution to our university.
This is for sure that the new library really makes me feel proud and privileged to be a Yonsei’s student. The Yonsei Samsung Library proved to me that the school is actually trying a lot to provide us with an enhanced academic environment. This is a new concept for me because I always have thought the school pays no attention to student voices, and this is why we silently have spent years at the ageing Central Library using its unpleasant toilets. The new library seems to be offering a lot to us and we have all the rights to fully take advantage of the facilities. Students must recognize this and fulfill their academic needs to gain a better outcome of their academic years at our university. I want all the students to be aware of what is being offered to them and hope they seize the benefits and privileges for themselves. <K.S.J>