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Creating new stories: Phase one of library renovations now open

Sep 6, 2019

The William Knox Holt Memorial Library has undergone its first phase of renovations. Click on the video watch the slideshow and see pictures of the new first floor.

Renovations to University of the Pacific's William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center are striking. From the bright, open lobby to the expansive study areas and collection of student success services, it is being transformed into a technologically equipped learner-centered resource for modern teaching and learning.

The first phase was completed in time for new and returning students to enjoy beginning this academic year. The thoughtful renovation, which leverages input from students, faculty and staff, reflects how students learn today.

First story

Once inside, visitors will find the Pacific Technology "Ask IT" help desk on one side and the library's "Ask Us" help desk on the other. A digital kiosk to the left invites people to use the touch screen to explore the new layout of the library. People also can view a directory, holiday and exam dates and a list of donors who supported the project.

The Cube is now a larger, eye-catching experimentation space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls where patrons can attend workshops, create content for Virtual Reality and access 3D printers. Nearby are the Experimental Exhibition Space, a 100-inch touch screen for pop-up lectures, presentations and exhibitions, and the Media X digital gallery and editing rooms.

Soon, the new John Muir Experience will open and be home to the naturalist's bookshelves, books, writing desk, a virtual reality experience, electronic touchscreens and examples of his sketches, photos and other information.

"It's so exciting that libraries are no longer just a repository," said University Librarian Mary Somerville. "We're actually creating content. It's a marvelous way for students to take information, which is the traditional role of libraries, and then to reformat it for enhanced dissemination and interpretation. It's hands-on learning."

Gone are smaller window panes, the clunky swinging doors and pedestal security system. The coffee counter, chairs and tables also have moved, allowing for natural light to fill the space, dubbed the "Vertical Village." Throughout the library, there is ample space alongside the floor-to-ceiling windows for students to study while enjoying Pacific's natural beauty. 

"Furniture layout provides spectacular views of the campus," Somerville said. "Indoor-outdoor articulation is a fundamental design feature. We know that students learn best if there's natural light. They're inspired by the outdoors. So, we've really tried to build in mindfulness throughout the renovated spaces. We know this will encourage student creativity and wellbeing."

"The library's design is also making studying visible," Somerville said. Students have said that seeing others' study behaviors enhances their understanding of other possible ways to learn. The first floor opens to areas for individual and group study and a gathering area for exchanging ideas. Plush swivel chairs are available, as are single pods that offer more privacy; they are already a student favorite.

Beyond the south wall, where the Community Room was located, is the future location of a full-service Starbucks café that will serve as an entryway for the broader community to visit the library.

Second story

Somerville said the modernization of the library also brought vital student success services together in close proximity, which makes them more accessible and convenient for students.

On the second floor, visitors will find the Student Academic Success Hub as well as a one-stop collection of resources, including tutoring, writing and math help, as well as research librarians' offices, and the Center for Teaching and Learning where instructional designers and faculty work together.

The addition of a multi-faith meditation and prayer area is part of the second phase of construction and will open on the second floor in January 2020.

"The shared facility makes the library a more active partner in student success," said Somerville, who along with many others worked for three years designing the new "social ecosystem" of the library.

"It's amazing how much we've fit in the space," she said. "And we're not even talking about the archive or the print collection," which remain vital campus resources.

While there are 2,200 print books on the first floor, there are 265,000 books on the Garden Level and a vast selection of e-books available through the library website.  

"We think students will be very excited to enter and discover," Somerville said. "We're creating new stories."

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