MUSC 229 – Visual Progress Report

We have been thinking and talking and writing and meeting and meeting and writing and talking and taking surveys that have been ignored and making progress then losing ground and getting frustrated and still talking about changing the Resource Centre for a few years now. The books and magazines and yes, VHS tapes, linger in a dead zone on our shelves. Use declines each year, and we just had our worst year ever with only 28 patrons in 2018.

Eyes on the Prize screening in MUSC 229

Just as libraries have updated to stay relevant by adding value, non-profit resource centres like ours need to do the same. But, resistance to change is surprisingly and annoyingly tenacious even within an organization with a mission to change the world.

“we just had our worst year ever with only 28 patrons”

So, early on in the discussion, some of us tried to just shift things around to make some more useful space. In this instance, a student volunteer, Natalie, pictured below, helped me move some shelves to create an open space on the wall. The goal was to be able to use our data projector to show videos or presentations in the office space.

We did it, as you can see, but it was short-lived, as you shall also see.

In terms of innovation, this method of doing what you can with the resources available and quickly testing the prototype is a great way to make change happen. It’s agile!

Don’t over plan it, try it out and if it fails you will know right away (like my “elevator pitch” video series idea. I’ll tell you that story another time).

So we made this change and I showed weekly video episodes from the Eyes on the Prize documentary during Black History Month in 2014 in the “office”/now serving as an event space!

“Don’t over plan it, try it out and if it fails you will know right away”

Was it perfect? No, but we came out with some lessons: it would be much easier, for example, to use a wall monitor rather than a projector. The projector takes up space on a desk, heats up the room, etc. and I tripped over the cords more than once. It was dark!

The financial cost of the whole project was zero, but both Natalie and I felt a sense of accomplishment for our efforts. If we could turn this boring office/library into an interactive screening room, we could do anything! It was also a good way to celebrate Black History.

Imagine! Students coming into MUSC 229 to watch a movie and have discussions about it! Who would have thought!

Natalie helping create wallspaceMission accomplished!

Phase One

A blog post in 2014 started more strategic thinking about the space in MUSC 229, and we continued making incremental gains where we could. Getting rid of clutter, downsizing furniture, digitizing paper files, etc.

In 2015 we were still seeking input on potential upgrades and changes through ongoing conversations, blogging and outreach, but, in December that year the OPIRG board approved changes that we are calling “phase one.:

In the year since the initial 2014 blog post, there had been negotiations to get rid of “one desk per staff” work areas and create more open space by using shared tables for staff who are still using desktop computers, so we could welcome 2016 with a new layout and a bit more space.

3 desksshared desks

The next phase was to look at ways to make the remaining space more useful for our project teams and volunteers. We have successfully implemented an after-hours booking process so groups can use the space in the evenings and on weekends.

We also had one session with volunteers to thin the library collection of books, magazines, DVD and even VHS tapes that met the criteria of

  • more than one copy
  • available free online
  • not aligned with OPIRG values
  • outdated
  • damaged beyond repair

Volunteers filled almost two-full bookcases with books meeting the criteria in a two-hour session after hours, with the expectation that we could do more in a subsequent session. And we had pizza. It was a great work-session.

Then things got a bit strange.

This is part one of a two-part series on changes to MUSC 229. Make sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our weekly email announcements so you won’t miss a thing!

Leave us a comment below if you have feelings about this!