William Knox Holt Library Planning Renovations

Pacific students jot down their input on furniture possibilities during a recent session in the library. PC: Thy Son

Check it out! University libraries are ditching their stuffy past and embracing a sleek future that includes plugging into the latest technology and creating inviting study spaces.

For the past two years, the library has been working with students and professors to plan a much-needed library renovation. In July 2016, an architect hosted an interactive workshop to gain ideas from students and faculty for the library’s new interior look. These ideas turned into goals and these goals are to build student study spaces, to provide academic library services, to facilitate student academic success, and to enhance faculty development spaces.

To create more space, twenty percent of the book collection was culled. According to Dr. Mary Somerville, University Librarian, the library removed a portion of the books because some were in disrepair, no longer current or had not been borrowed in many years. In addition, the library removed any duplicates or books that had an online version.

Pacific’s library is not the first library to trim its book collection. It is part of an overall trend at universities where libraries are being revamped to plug into 21st Century tech and provide more open spaces with modern furniture for studying, group projects and just hanging out. UC Berkeley recently modernized its library and removed more than 100,000 books.

The freed-up space in Pacific’s library will be occupied with new study-friendly furniture. Recently, the library introduced Agati Pods, stylish minimalistic cubicles, for student use. This is the first step of many the library will make involving furniture. “We want students to continue to be involved with the furniture selection choices during spring semester,” said Sommerville.

One student attended a workshop back in January to check out possible furniture options.

“I thought the event was very insightful,” Sam Gayla, a Health, Exercise and Sports Science major, said. Gayla and other students looked at pictures of furniture from other recently-renovated libraries and wrote down their opinions on colorful Post-It notes.  

“I enjoyed giving my input as a student during the session. Also, I think that by incorporating students to make decisions, improvements/changes will be more appreciated.”

Future sessions to collect additional student insight are being planned.

Somerville stated that students still want to see books. So, the library ordered 500 recently published books. After all new books have been inserted into the system, Somerville said they will be placed in the empty bookshelves on the first floor.

Besides a physical renovation, the library is also renovating its technology. As Niraj Chaudhary, Director of Library Technology and Digital Services said, “[This renovation] gives us an opportunity to redesign the library in a way to support the needs of 21st Century students.” The library is not only trying to provide more study space for students, but to provide better and interactive technological materials.

The Cube is the library’s tech space. According to Chaudhary, The Cube is, “A space for cutting edge technology in learning.” Pacificans can find a 3-D printer, drones, computer design software, virtual reality programs and 360 cameras, all of which are available for student and professor use. Chaudhary also said students can sign up for workshops through the library website to learn how to use these devices.

The library’s technological advance doesn’t end there. Both Somerville and Chaudhary said the study rooms will get a new reservation feature. Each study room will have a device displaying the designated study room’s availability and allow on-sight reservations. They will offer a web app so that study rooms could be reserved from virtually anywhere. In addition, Chaudhary said the library will provide four Media X production booths. Pacificans should expect to see a digital gallery wall that will display media created by students and faculty.

“The library is bringing all student academic services in one place,” Chaudhary said.

Indeed, the library has become home to many student services. The Student Academic Success Hub, which includes the General Academic Tutoring Center and The Writing Center, is on the second floor. In addition, Pacific Technology is offering their services Monday – Thursday, 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. and Friday 2:30 – 6:00 p.m. on the first floor. Chaudhary said moving Pacific Technology to the library is a test run to see how helpful students find having Pacific Technology available at the library.

The Board of Regents approved moving the library project into the construction phase at its February meeting. The library renovations could begin this summer and finish, with funding permitting, by 2020.

Somerville said the first renovation will be the entrance. The entrance will have a designated skylight atrium that will provide more natural lighting. Soon after, the library will begin making renovations on the first floor.

Chaudhary said the library will stay open during the whole process. Don’t worry about construction noise though. The library is still a fairly silent zone. Chaudhary said there will be free ear plugs and noise cancelling headphones to check out throughout the process.

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Nadia Monroy

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