BY ANNA BELMONTE
Recently, we have explored one of McKendree’s plans for the Forward Campaign: the renovation of Voigt Science Hall. Now let’s turn our attention to another objective: the renovation of Holman Library.
When it opened in 1969, Holman Library was a great addition to McKendree’s campus that students still enjoy today. However, in the age of technology, modern libraries are employing library space to encourage collaboration, community and technology use. “[Libraries have] gone from very book-centric to very technology-centric,” says Senior Vice President Victoria Dowling. Paula Martin, Director of Holman Library, says that having a technologically-equipped library “helps us to be able to evolve for whatever technological changes happen in the future. It’s impossible to have a learning environment without having ready and extensible technology.”
As a result, libraries are moving away from having large print collections and are instead focusing on access to media and materials from libraries all over the world. However, because students can access resources online from their dorm rooms, there’s very little incentive to enter the library. McKendree administration has recognized that students could be missing out on having a special space to do their research. “What we’re hoping to do is create a space they’ll do that research in,” says Whitney Strang, Director of Major and Planned Giving.
According to Strang, improving the technology and functionality of the library had been an initiative in the previous campaign that was not fulfilled. Since then, however, McKendree administration has worked with library staff to further develop the plans for the library. “We have no finalized plans at this point,” says Martin, “but the librarians have been aware of and have contributed to some of the brainstorming for what a renovation would look like, and how to meet the needs of McKendree students, faculty and staff.”
To meet these needs, the renovated library will house the university Archives and Museum, expand computer labs, upgrade technology and reference capabilities and create rooms for faculty training, student instruction, group meetings and individual study spots. To accommodate these features, all three floors of Holman Library will undergo changes. The first floor will become a more open gathering space hospitable for individual study, study groups and even the use of a coffee and snack bar. The reference desk will also be redesigned. The second floor will be a dedicated research space, with updated computer labs. “The trend in academic library design right now is to maximize space for students to study, read and build community,” says Martin.
To free up space, the books and print materials will be moved to the basement, where they will be reassigned to compact shelving. This space-efficient shelving works somewhat like a large filing cabinet, where the shelves roll into place. However, Martin says that our library will still buy and use print material, as they are still valuable to students. Putting the books in compact shelves in the basement allows for the first two floors to be utilized as a hub for study and research. Consequently, “Many more people could use the library at the same time,” says Dowling.
Martin emphasizes that none of the design plans have been finalized. However, there’s no doubt that the renovated Holman Library will be a more lively and attractive place for students to go to do their research, homework or group study.
Meanwhile, the campaign continues on towards the $40 million goal that will make all these major renovations possible. Senior Vice President Dowling says, “We’re excited about the campaign, and we’re excited about how it’s going.”
Slideshow photos credit: McKendree University Office of Development, Alumni and Parent Relations
Cover photo credit: Lauren Reeves