The top 5 pros and cons of the Mary Idema Pew Library

Kevin Joffre

A glittering palace in the center of campus, the Mary Idema Pew Learning and Information Commons gives you the impression that you’re physically and symbolically revolving around it. Since it opened last week, it’s been flooded with a steady stream of students who have been itching to go inside since the first support beams were put in place. Having found every excuse to spend time there, here is my personal list of the library’s top five achievements and disappointments:

Achievement #1: Men and Women’s Bathrooms on All Floors
No longer do you have to do the “Zumberge Bathroom Walk:” walking 350 degrees in the wrong direction, only to realize you’re not on the right floor.

Achievement #2: The Chairs
With approximately 1500 seats in the library, there’s a design for everyone. Want productivity? Check out the rows of uniform chairs that overlook the lobby. Prefer relaxation? I like the comfy, four-in-one chairs that look like reverse-swastikas from above.

Achievement #3: Mixed Labs
The library makes great strides at reducing the Mac vs. PC apartheid at GVSU by providing labs where advocates for both kinds of computers can work side-by-side.

Achievement #4: Meeting Room Availability Displays
The library has 19 meeting rooms with built-in electronic availability displays, which allow students to reserve a room from 30 minutes to two hours. In addition, the library will give students the ability to remotely reserve the spaces.

Achievement #5: Rooftop Terrace
On clear days, you can see Lake Michigan to the west and the Varnum Consulting building to the east. Perfect for people who want to see how big the ravines really are, it will no doubt be a source of idyllic images for the GVSU homepage.

Disappointment #1: Limited Handicap Accessibility
This is a big shortcoming. Certain highly advertised parts—such as the reading rooms and terrace—are not handicap accessible, nor are many of the student resources, including the OURS and Fellowships Office. Kate Pew Wolters, one of the major donors to the library (and namesake of one of the floors), is a disability advocate. It’s an embarrassing oversight.

Disappointment #2: Missing Pillar Names
Did you miss the big name-signing of the pillar last year? That’s okay—the names were painted over anyway.

Disappointment #3: Computer Trumps Human Agency
When the windows get too warm from the sun’s rays, the shades drop automatically. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no way for students to raise the shades on their own. There’s something unnerving about being outsmarted by a building.

Disappointment #4: Not Open 24-Hours
The Mary Idema Pew library is next in a long line of GVSU buildings that close before our homework is done. Keeping it open all night would be a chore, but it would save us from driving out to The Bitter End.

Disappointment #5: Unfortunate Acronym
Until the novelty wears off, we’ll have to endure cheap puns on the library’s name.

These shortcomings aside, the library has done something I didn’t think was possible: it’s made studying an exciting outing.