RACHEL KETZ • [email protected]
Alcuin library’s Lower and Basement Levels have reopened with several new features. The Upper Level is set to open Feb. 20.
By Mady Johnson – [email protected]
The start of spring semester marked the re-opening of Alcuin Library after it had been closed for renovations during the fall 2016 semester.
The first portion of restorations, including the Lower and Basement Levels, opened in January. The Upper Level is set to open Feb. 20.
The final installment, an attached Learning Commons, is to be completed by late summer and open to the public in fall 2017.
Behind all of the alterations to the building, Libraries Director Kathy Parker said there is a very specific purpose in mind.
“We still have books,” Parker said. “We still love books and use them, but we need a space that was created as the best possible space for people. So, the focus of our design thinking has moved away from collections and in to the kinds of things that students, faculty, researchers need to be able to do in this space.”
From the ground up, there have been a series of improvements, modifications and additions made toward achieving that goal.
The dungeon still adheres to its same drop-of-a-pin silence, but it is now a better-lit environment.
Roughly half of Alcuin’s basement now contains archives, rare books and special collections. There are additional group and individual study rooms, a classroom that will be available for the Registrar to assign classes to, books on condensed shelving, a gallery to house the St. John’s Bible, a supply of electrical outlets, a full service elevator and modified, more comfortable restrooms. Student Accessibility Services will also be located on this floor.
The Alcuin service desk now faces inward toward the lobby of the library.
“As soon as you walk in to this building you will see people who can assist you in finding where you need to be, to do whatever your work is,” Parker said.
On the Upper Level there will be reference librarians available to help students with any research inquiries. The Writing Center and IT Services will be relocated from the Quadrangle to the Upper Level of Alcuin as well.
On top of that, there will be windows located at the front and back to provide visitors with views of the St. John’s Abbey Arboretum and the Abbey church.
“I hope that students find [the Upper Level] an inspirational place in that sense as well as a practical place,” Parker said. “We made it beautiful, comfortable, functional and it feels like a place set apart for a special purpose, and that purpose is learning.”
Included in the Learning Commons will be more classrooms and a coffee shop.
Student library workers senior Andrew Sweere and junior Colton Motschenbacher are happy about the improvements and additions to their workplace.
“It’s going to be a lot nicer when it’s done,” Motschenbacher said.
“I think it’ll be a better environment for students,” Sweere said.
There is also a plan in the works to use the Link bus system to transport students from nearby Alcuin.
If implemented, the bus will pick up students from the New Science Center Parking Lot.
Alcuin staff are excited to share the new and improved library spaces with students and visitors. They are also looking for feedback on the finished product.
“We’d love to have students tell us what they think about the furniture,” Parker said.