During President Stanley’s State of the University Convocation address in September, he announced a very exciting project that will enhance and update the Reading Rooms in Melville Library. He said that certain spaces would be transformed into a “knowledge commons” – a place where technology improvements, new furniture and space management would make our library a more welcoming place, where students can study together or work individually in a more conducive environment.
Since President Stanley’s announcement, the facilities and academic planning teams spent time reviewing optimal library designs at peer institutions. We consulted with library users, acoustic experts, design experts and others to develop a modern approach to create more functional open space areas, to address technology needs – including more electrical outlets and charging stations – and to identify innovative furniture concepts that are appropriate for today’s technology needs. From there we established a plan for renovating the space, starting with the North Reading Room, which we anticipate to complete by the end of 2016 spring semester; and, subsequently, in the Central Reading Room, which we hope to complete by the 2016 fall semester. Renovation must be conducted in phases to accommodate library users and minimize loss of workspace during the busiest times of the academic year.
Designing the space has been a very exciting endeavor for the entire University Libraries and our academic partners. Level one of North Reading Room (NRR) will showcase a flexible learning space and include multiple group-study rooms that feature collaborative technologies. Based on the comments and feedback we received from student groups, we incorporated furniture that communicates a need for focused study as well as comfort. Level one of NRR will also be technology-enabled with both desktop computers and with plenty of electrical outlets so students can work on and charge personal devices. The second floor of NRR will feature more independent study areas. Both floors will optimize natural light and acoustical technologies best suited for academic libraries and there will be a visible presence of library faculty and staff work areas in all public spaces to promote interaction with our users. Renovation of the NRR, which will become the center of research and instruction for University Libraries, is already underway. During the renovation process, workstations and furniture from NRR will be relocated to the alcoves of the Central Reading Room (CRR) to accommodate increased capacity. Reference Books have been relocated from level one to level two, and other library materials have been integrated into different collection areas of the Libraries.
The redesigned North Reading Room is currently open and construction has started in the Central Reading Room construction. Both renovated rooms are scheduled to be completed in Fall Semester 2016.