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Library's Reading Commons creates space for students to study, learn and meditate

Pacific students study in the Academic Commons in the William Knox Holt Memorial Library.

University of the Pacific students take time to study in the William Knox Holt Library and Learning Center's Academic Commons, home of the Student Academic Support Services Hub.

Jan 21, 2020
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University of the Pacific's William Knox Holt Library and Learning Center is preparing to unveil the Reading Commons, its renovated second floor that adds more than 100 additional spaces for students to study, learn and meditate. Construction continued over winter break and the Reading Commons  is expected to open by the end of January with a student welcome-back celebration that will be announced soon.


The library’s first and second floors are divided into four commons—Learning, Innovation, Academic and Reading—each with a specific purpose. On the library’s first level, there is the Innovation Commons, an 8,000-square-foot space designed to provide Pacific students opportunities to explore, experiment and then exhibit what they’ve learned using state-of-the-art technology. There is also the Learning Commons, which offers study rooms, computers, printers and spaces for students to collaborate, but it is not intended to be quiet, said Niraj Chaudhary, associate university librarian for organization innovation. He said while the library’s first floor is intended to buzz with activity, the second floor is a quiet space.

The Academic Commons, home for the Student Academic Support Services Hub.


Located on the second floor, the Academic Commons is the home for Student Academic Support Services Hub, or the Hub, a one-stop collection of resources such as tutoring, writing and developmental math help, as well as academic support librarians' offices and the Center for Teaching and Learning. Chaudhary said that in the evening, the Hub that is the busiest place in the library. The relocation of resources has already shown an increase in service to students, according to the library. Student appointments for the tutoring center increased by 81% in fall 2019 compared to fall 2018. With the opening of the Reading Commons, the library expects the already busy Academic Commons to grow in visibility and use.

“One of the biggest visions about the renovation was to bring in all the academic service providers into one building,” Chaudhary said. “That is what the second floor is all about.”


Upon entering the new Reading Commons, visitors will find a relaxing environment. Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase Pacific’s natural beauty while furniture thoughtfully selected with input from students will offer private spaces to study.

The Reading Commons, 15,000 square feet of space to study and reflect.


The more than 15,000 square feet of space in the Reading Commons supports students’ growing need to have a quiet space to study and reflect, Chaudhary said. The Reading Commons will add about 100 more study spaces for a total of 629 seats available for students to work independently or with classmates. The floor will continue to feature nine study rooms designed for individuals or small and large groups.


The Reading Commons also will serve as the access point to a dedicated space for prayer and meditation, located above the second floor on a mezzanine illuminated with natural light. 


The library added the Multifaith Meditation and Prayer Area in response to students’ requests, Chaudhary said. This area will open to all library visitors in January. One restroom in the Hub was remodeled to include an ablution station, which Muslim students can use to prepare for prayer.

The Multifaith Meditation and Prayer Area
Multifaith Meditation and Prayer Area.

In late January, the library is planning a student welcome-back celebration with games, food and prizes to encourage visitors to explore and learn about the new spaces. More information about the event will be shared on the library’s website and social media channels.


A formal dedication ceremony is planned for March 19, following the opening of a full-service Starbucks café on the south end of the first floor, which will also serve as an entryway into the library for the community.

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