The J. Paul Leonard Library

I decided to do my profile on San Francisco State University’s J. Paul Leonard Library.

The J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University.

The J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University.

I find this library to be quite unique and unlike most university libraries I’ve seen. It is not a generic library where students and visitors go to for a quiet place to do research and study. The library has a life of its own, as it is also a community center where people can go to hang out with their peers.

According to the library’s mission and goals, the purpose of the library is,” to create a learning environment that promotes study, research and scholarly interaction in the context of a diverse campus community.”

“It’s a social space as well as a research space,” Deborah Masters, the University librarian, said.

Students hanging out at the group study space located on the first floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library.

Students hanging out at the group study space located on the first floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library.

Upon entering through the sliding glass doors of the first floor, visitors are met with the voices of students conversing with each other and the shouts of the Peet’s Coffee & Tea barista calling out orders. The noise from the group study space is projected throughout the first floor and even trickles down to the ground floor. There is no librarian telling everyone to be quiet and no staff member kicking individuals out for being too loud here, as there is no noise restriction in this area.

Yet from the second floor to the fourth floor of the library, the only noise that can be heard is the occasional shuffle of papers and the low murmur of students whispering. The second floor, the third floor, and the fourth floor of the library breathe a completely different life in comparison to the somewhat craziness of the ground floor and the first floor.

“I like the fact that it can be so loud on the lower levels but the higher you go, it’s quieter,” Sumita Rattu, a student at San Francisco State University, said.

I find one of the most unique features of the library, however, to be the Library Retrieval System.

The Library Retrieval System is a book storage system that contains around five rows spanning from the ground floor to the second floor of the library and expanding far back into a dark abyss of the large room.

Each row contains stacks of two feet by four feet bins that are divided into six sections, where the books available for check out are stored by height.

According to Masters, the system contains approximately 800,000 library books that are available to be checked out.

This system replaced the usual open stack book access found in most libraries, which allows people to walk down isles of books and look at the books before checking them out.

Now, in order to check out a book using the LRS, students and faculty have to request the book on the library’s website. Inside the Library Retrieval System room, the system tracks what bin the book is located in. The system’s crane brings the bin to the staff member standing before the system’s computer, which highlights the section of the bin the book is located in.

The book is found within the bin by the last four digits of the barcode and scanned by the staff member. The book is then put on the Book Pickup shelves for the student or faculty member to retrieve and check out with his or her SF State ID or One Card.

This entire process takes 10 to 15 minutes.

The system interests me quite a bit, as I usually look through a book before checking it out. Not having that ability is rather strange to me, which is why I have yet to actually check out any books from the library as of yet. This system appeared to be odd to the few people I was able to talk to as well, as it was periodically referred to as “weird.”

Still, the library is probably one of my favorite places on campus and it was rather fun to gain some more in depth information about it.


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