$6.5 million overhaul of Kretitzberg Library set to begin; renovation driven by digital changes in study and use

Starting after final exams in December 2014, the university will launch a major $6.5 renovation of NU’s Kreitzberg library.

The effort will not only dramatically change the interior structure but officials expect it will affect the way the library, built in 1993 at a cost of $8.1 million, is used by students on campus. It is being overseen by a special committee established by the board of trustees.

“If you look at how the library’s designed, it’s more designed for individual use as opposed to group use,” Associate Director of General Library Services Greg Sauer said. Currently, the library is only capable of seating 10 percent of the student population, in comparison to the 20 percent average of 18 “similar institutions,” according to Chief Administration Officer David Magida.

As part of the Bicentennial Celebration’s “Forging the Future” campaign, with architecture plans from Jones Architecture and Gund Partnership, the library will transition from a “’Cathedral to the book” to (a) “Cathedral to learning” atmosphere, which will provide a more open, visible, and inviting atmosphere in the library with “new lighting, new ceiling, new furniture, new frieze, new flooring, (and) room availability screens” that will provide a “comfortable learning environment”, according to Magida.

Such building redesigns will enable the library to extend its seating capability to 18 percent of the student population. The goals of these renovations are to meet other current industry standards for libraries, such as student seating, information access, and learning atmosphere.

With the more open design, new features for the library will be introduced, along with revamped existing features, such as a café, a wider entrance, a greater technological emphasis, and a revamped fourth floor.

The main entrance of the library will be expanded upon to allow for the relocation of the circulation desk and the introduction of a café and an e-classroom, according to Magida. Despite the renovations, the historic bricks, from the original Norwich University, will remain. “They’ll be there (and) they’ll still be highlighted.” Magida said.

With the expansion of the entrance, an e-classroom will be introduced on the mezzanine level with an appropriate amount of seating for classes. “Right now we have small electronic classrooms which seat 12 (people). An English class does not seat 12, its more 20 (or) 25, which will give us more instruction space,” Sauer said.

Café details are still under discussion, however, the committee planning the renovation of the library aims for something “different than what is on campus,” Magida said. Working hours for the café are still under discussion as well; however, the committee acknowledges students’ schedules.

“Students are at their classes, most of the time in the morning and during early afternoons the library is not as busy,” Magida said, “The library’s peak time is when the café will be ready.”

Should the volume produced by the café be too loud for students on the first floor, the second, third, and fourth floors will be retained as “quiet, study spaces” to accommodate the different learning styles and socializing styles of students. “There’s going to be other places in the library for people who like quiet study places, Magida said; “We’re designing it specifically that way.”

The library’s collections are also undergoing a change. Periodicals will be removed from the second and third floors and will be stored in the library’s basement, available digitally or if requested. “Libraries are having less of a permanent hard-copy collection,” Director of Academic Achievement Center Robert Ingham said, “(and) more of their resources being online.” Books from the fourth floor will be moved to the third floor and books from the third floor will be moved to the second floor where the periodicals once were.

The AAC and Counseling services, currently spread across the multiple floors of the library, will be consolidated into a single section of the fourth floor.

The space provided by the removal of the books on the fourth floor will be used to create an “open, commons area,” Ingham said, which provides a social area for students to work together and allow AAC tutors room to work with students outside of the new offices.

Architectural plans of the fourth floor display a series of tables and rooms designed for group interaction. “We have a lot of demand for group study spaces for students to use” said Sauer.

The renovations will occur in stages and be done by the fall of next year. The second and third floors will be the first to be renovated, from “December to May,” while the first and fourth floors will remain open and active until the end of the school year. They will be completely renovated along with the second and fourth floor before the fall semester. “The goal is to not impact student access to the Academic Achievement Center (AAC), except during the summer,” Ingham said.

“We want the end results to be when students, faculty, and staff see the completed project to be ‘Wow, Norwich did it right’,” Magida said, “So it’s going to be an exciting project.”

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