Creating a space where the Durban University of Technology students can engage in their learning was the reason behind the re-purposing of the existing, basement of the city campus library building. It is now the new ‘hang out’ spot for postgraduate students.
With the financial assistance of the Faculty of Arts and Design, the library forged ahead and culminated in the launch of the new space in August 2017. Nearly three months later, it is being utilised to its fullest capacity where students can use the computers and focus on their academic research work or host talk forums at the new space lab.
The project would not have been made possible without the involvement of DUT staff such as Lucille Webster (Director: Library Services), Dr René Smith (Executive Dean), Dr Rapeane-Mathonsi (research coordinator, Siza Radebe (Manager: Site Libraries), Nozipho Majola (site coordinator) and Megan Parker (Interior Design Master’s student).
Interior Design Master’s student, Megan Parker designed the space in the hope that the spaces would provide students with a place that can become their own, somewhere they can focus, collaborate, where people from her generation can feel most conducive to learning.
Speaking on the new creative space lab, Dr Rapeane-Mathonsi, said that it was redesigned by a student so this means that she knew exactly what the students wanted and needed. She knew, what she herself wanted it to look and feel like. She added that she had done an excellent job with the new space because it is a friendly environment and students love it.
“The students are using the facilities and resources that are easily accessible to them. There’s also a student librarian at the library to help, as well as an IT technician, who is always around to assist students in terms of troubleshooting. It’s a beautiful little place. Also, students come here to have discussions with their friends, there is free wifi and a tea and coffee station. We also support those students who are keen to host workshops, so it is also a course-saving mechanism in that respect,” she said.
Language Practice master’s student Mtungabantu Myeni said: “It’s a great environment for all of us master’s students. It’s awesome, quiet and we (students) have so many resources that are available to us (students) here. It makes things easier for us when we (students) are working on our research. We really do love our DUT lab,” he said proudly.
For Media, Language and Communication student, Dr Zaheera Bunting, she said she finds it beneficial to use the new lab space. “There is now all the necessary resources that we require for our work,” she said.
Dr Rapeane-Mathonsi encouraged students to utilise the venue and the library for workshops. Students can use it for their discussions, workshops, seminars and roundtables and we wanted our students to access that. It has lockers and there are no limitations in time usage in a day as long as it is for their study purposes.
“We also held an abstract writing day workshop, already hosted literature writing, abstract writing, writing for publication and ‘know your research’ seminars, with the library. The students got the opportunity to meet with the subject librarians, so it’s not just a space for learning but students are also getting assistance and time to time workshops to help them in their academic journey. It’s a beautiful space and we are using it to the best of our ability. We have also used it for Digifest 4, some students said they did not have to go the gallery, the gallery came to them,” she said.
Pictured: Dr Rapeane-Mathonsi with Language Practice Master’s student Mtungabantu Myeni, Media, Language and Communication student Dr Zaheera Bunting, student librarian Thandeka Zondi and Language Practice Master’s student Welcome Shabane, at the lab.