Library lobby remodel includes new view


A renovation that began last week will add seating and student space in the Parks Library first-floor lobby, moving the service desk and opening up a scenic public view to the south.

This summer, a renovation of Parks Library's lobby will open up the space along the rest of its first-floor windows facing south, making a bright spot for additional seating and small-group rooms.

Work began last week on the $750,000 project, which is expected to be complete before fall classes start. The renovation will add 100 seats and six student collaboration rooms with touchscreen presentation boards and video/audio conference capabilities, which helps address an acute shortage of collaborative space, said Beth McNeil, dean of library services.

"We're attempting to reimagine Parks Library," McNeil said. "We want to the library to meet the evolving needs of students, and this is a huge step in the right direction."

The project doesn't replace the library's plans for a $28 million learning hub, which would remodel two floors of stacks space to add 600 seats and technology-equipped classrooms and collaboration areas, McNeil said. A March 2017 space feasibility assessment estimated the library should have about 50 student meeting rooms, she said. After construction, the room count will rise to 14.

Some staff offices were moved to make room for the additional student space by the windows, which will provide a scenic view of the often-busy lawn and sidewalk as well as a boost of natural light.

"It's going to be a much more inviting space," McNeil said.

Staff front and center

Moving the circulation desk is necessary to open up the window area, but where the desk is going is as important as what it's making way for, she said. The desk handling checkouts and returns will move to south of the main stairwell, facing the main entrance, so visitors won't have to turn around to find someone to assist them.

"I've been thinking about ways to have a helpful human presence more in your line of sight," McNeil said. To reflect its expanded role as a service center, the area won't be called the circulation desk, she said. For the summer, the desk is temporarily stationed by the computer lab north of the lobby.

The project was funded by a $200,000 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, $125,000 from the university's maintenance and improvement committee, and private donations, McNeil said.

Though McNeil is leaving her position in the middle of the project, she said incoming interim dean Hilary Seo, associate dean of curation services, has been closely involved in the planning and "a big part of that momentum."

The library's project website will feature updates throughout the summer.