Imagine visiting the UTC Library and instead of having 12 group study rooms, there will be a choice of 40 different sized, soundproofed rooms where two to 15 people can work together. Wouldn’t it be great to use one of two rooms designed to practice a group presentation and then record it? With CD in hand to review later, why not stop by the library café to pick up coffee and a muffin—at this late hour a snack would provide energy for an all-nighter. Three years from fall 2008, the new UTC library will move from a vision to reality.
Members of the University-wide New Library Program Statement Committee (NLPSC) are working closely with architectural firms Derthick, Henley & Wilkerson and Artech, planning and dreaming of a library that will be the “signature building on campus,” according to Janet Spraker, one of two co-chairs of the committee. Not only will the design beautifully dovetail with student, faculty and community needs, it will be kind to the environment.
“The UT System has agreed we will pursue certification by the U.S. Green Building Council,” said Spraker. “As we plan, we want to encourage those who use the library to consider alternate transportation when they visit the facility. We will have smart use of energy and water resources and we will plan to make the best use of daylight, minimizing the use of internal lighting.”
In an effort to become much more than a repository for books and electronic holdings, the committee is looking at the library as a hub of academic support, an intellectual center. Among the entities interested in locating there are the Writing Center, Student Success Center, Tutoring, and the Walker Teaching Resource Center, a faculty resource dedicated to improving student learning through teaching, learning and technology integration. Some of the more unusual requests include an art area, a small theater and a meditation room.
“A commuter student who does not have the luxury of retreating to campus housing has requested a quiet space where students can rest their eyes and relax,” said Theresa Liedtka, Dean of the Lupton Library and co-chair of the NLPSC. “We are looking at all requests, and the next phase in planning will address prioritizing these requests.”
Construction is scheduled to begin August 2009, move-in will be in summer 2011 and in fall 2011, the facility should be up and running. The committee would like to locate 90% of the library’s collections in compact stacks, meaning with a push of a button, these storage containers will open and a book can be instantly located. This new system will conserve 20,000 square feet of space. Reference collection, music, films, children’s books and textbooks will be stored traditionally on the main floor of the new library.
The current Lupton Library is 116,000 square feet. The new building will be approximately 180,000 square feet. The number of PCs in the learning common area will grow from 40 to 120, and they will be fully loaded with library resources and office accessories, with helpful staff close by. Clearly, more space is needed to address a variety of needs, according to Liedtka.
“Collections are growing physically and electronically,” Liedtka explains. “Educational trends are also changing; with more group assignments and collaborative learning more students have a need for some level of conversation.”
In the annual survey issued by the Lupton Library, resources and staff are not mentioned as problematic. The facility itself draws the ire of many who use it.
“From study room to study room the noise level is hard to control,” said Mark Przybysz, a Master’s of Accounting student. “I have been part of a study group in a room, and someone knocked on the door and asked us to keep down the noise.”
Przybysz suggested the new building should keep books in high demand on lower floors. “Don’t give anyone a reason to go to the quiet study area except to study,” he said.
Students also want to see more bathrooms in the common spaces, a problem that has been a mystery to Liedtka until recently.
“I actually spoke with the architect of the Lupton Library who told me the current facility was purposefully designed by the University with few bathrooms to keep people from coming in and just using the bathroom,” Liedtka said. “That will change, as it is one of the complaints we hear most often.”