The Kraemer Family Library is undergoing multiple major changes to make the library more innovative and inclusive.
The additions include the establishment of a new inventor-in-residence position, the creation of an LGBTQ+ digital exhibition and the implementation of new furniture options.
Digital curation exhibition of LGBTQ+ oral history
The KFL launched a second digital curation exhibit of LGBTQ+ oral history on the second floor, which features stories from season three of the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ Oral History Project.
The project was founded in 2020 by Rushaan Kumar of Colorado College with the help of Tre Wentling, a professor in UCCS’s Women’s and Ethnic Studies (WEST) program. Wentling described the project as a public archive that narrates the lives of LGBTQ+ residents in Colorado Springs.
“Oral history is an especially effective tool to document the simultaneity of experiences of oppression under homophobic, transphobic, racist, classist, Islamophobic and ableist, social and political institutions that are otherwise understood as discrete,” Kumar said.
To honor the concept of storytelling, the library created two new positions—the Storytelling Professor and the Digital Curator—which was filled by UCCS’ WEST professor ‘Ilaheva Tua’one and scholarship librarian Larry Eames respectively.
Tua’one and Eames curated this second exhibition alongside Wentling. Tua’one said the issues that LGBTQ+ people face both globally and locally, especially the Club Q shooting, inspired the digital curation team to seek out their stories.
Students of Wentling’s WEST 3090 course co-produced the digital curation exhibit by collecting, recording and transcribing interviews from LGBTQ+ narrators.
The exhibition will be on display until February. Attendees can use physical touch-screen devices, closed-captions and headsets to immerse themselves in the interactive exhibit.
New alternative seating options
The library recently added 12 new pieces of furniture, including wiggle stools and bean bags, to start a project that will provide students with comfortable alternative seating options.
The library has placed QR codes to short surveys on their tables and posts to gather student feedback on the new furniture options. There is also a whiteboard in the collaboration area where students can leave sticky notes to provide feedback.
Seth Porter, dean of the library, said that this feedback will be used to optimize the furniture in the entire library going forward.
“The intent is [to] evaluate our data and recommend additional furniture options to the entire library,” Porter said. “Over the next 1-3 years, we would like the library to offer multiple furniture and service options so students can find a comfortable place to study, collaborate and relax.”
The idea of new seating options was introduced by SGA’s senator of education Isaiah Watkins earlier this year.
“We believe in using student feedback to continually improve our space and services,” Porter said.
Benjamin Kwitek has been appointed as UCCS’s first inventor-in-residence & creativity consigliere. Porter explained the inventor-in-residence’’s role is to steer the KFL toward an innovative future and serve as a consultant to faculty and staff.
Porter and Kwitek both emphasized the importance of proactive innovation by higher education institutions in an age of artificial intelligence and other rapid technological advancements.
“Cultural heritage institutions are constantly under threat of disruption, and it is important to me that we attempt to build our own future through innovation rather than wait passively to be disrupted,” Porter said.
“Sometimes innovators feel like time travelers. They are torn between the present and the future. I am delighted that Seth wants to make KFL a cutting-edge library that others can emulate. I am honored by my selection and eager to see what we create,” Kwitek said.
Additional information about the Kraemer Family Library, including hours and events, can be found on their website.
Shot of the Kramer Family Library at UCCS. Photo by Meghan Germain.