Kevin Kidd came to Wentworth as director of the library in January 2015. He led the renovation of what is now the Douglas D. Schumann Library & Learning Commons, which opened in the fall.
Q: Today’s college students expect great food, beautiful dorms, and a state-of-theart fitness center. How do libraries fit into this evolving picture of what students are looking for?
Kidd: In terms of the facilities that students look at and deem important, libraries are at the very top. Students first look at the facilities in their intended major, and then the library. That was supported by a study of 17,000 students across Canada and the U.S. who were asked, “Why didn’t you go to a certain place?” The number-one answer was “Bad facilities in my major,” and the second was “A bad library.”
Q: What are some of the major changes to what is now called the Douglas D. Schumann Library & Learning Commons?
Kidd: We essentially gutted the library down to the concrete and rebuilt it. The design that the architect, Perkins+Will, came up with is just fantastic—a great use of the open, classically brutalist space. We wanted to create a variety of space and seating types and to add more usable space for the students. To accomplish this, we moved most of the collection into high-density storage, which saved almost 50 percent of the footprint of regular bookshelves. Another key goal was to allow easy access to technology and power. We added eight high-tech study rooms where students can connect multiple computers and share their work on 70-inch monitors. We opened the space up so that wayfinding is much easier. It is an utterly different space—even if you had spent a lot time in the old library, you might not recognize the newly renovated space. It is a thoroughly transformed and highly functional space that will serve the Wentworth community well into the 21st century.
Q: What’s your favorite element of the new library?
Kidd: Visually, I love the open design. We removed bookcases that were blocking views. We now have wood lining what was old concrete. The “wood” is actually acoustical tiling that absorbs sound. It’s a beautiful solution, and it actually works.
On the other side, we are making moves to bring technology fully into the library. It’s impossible now to use any library without the intervention of technology. There are no card catalogs anymore—everything is online. We’re working closely with Technology Services to create a seamless experience for students. They’re using technology in the library, so we don’t want to have to send them to another building or another floor to get help.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
Kidd: This is going to sound really snobby, but Ulysses, by James Joyce. I did a master’s in Irish literature, and I spent a year reading that book and studying the history of Ireland up to that point. The book is hilarious, great, amazing.
Q: If you weren’t a library director, what would your dream job be?
Kidd: Astrophysicist, for sure. Too bad I’m not good at math. I read all the books. I watch all the Universe shows. I think it’s just amazing, mind-blowing stuff.