Library Renovations Address Student Needs
Phase One to renovate first, second, and tenth floors
The 14-story Hesburgh Library, iconic for its Word of Life mural (better known as “Touchdown Jesus”), is slated to undergo full-scale interior renovations.
The Hesburgh Library marked its fiftieth anniversary on May 7, 2014, but as Jessica Kayongo, Anthropology and Interim Sociology Librarian, told the Rover, “[I]t has not had any major renovation, except in the Lower Level and the Penthouse, to any of its spaces in those fifty years.”
The multi-phased renovation project will span several years as funding continues to be secured. Phase One, estimated to conclude in January 2016, involves renovating the entrance gallery and tenth floor. The entrance gallery renovation will open up and connect the first and second floors. Other features include sky-lit lanterns, a northern entrance, and interior windows at the south end of the second floor. On tower floor 10, the collection will be moved from the windows to allow for more natural light. Plans also include a graduate student enclave with individual, assigned carrels and a subject-themed reference reading room.
To officially launch Phase One, the library hosted a “Farewell to the Floor” Open House on December 10 during which participants were invited to sign part of the second floor that is soon to be removed.
Additional renovation plans, as outlined in the Master Plan, include a transformation of the concourse; the Scholar’s Lounge; the Center for Digital Scholarship; research commons; Technology Row; a Teaching, Research, and Collaboration Hub; a Grand Reading Room; Special Collections; certain tower floors; and, the Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, Presidential Museum.
“The library’s primary mission is to connect people to knowledge,” Kayongo explained.
“Father Hesburgh had a grand vision for the library when it opened, that it was to be the academic heart of this campus,” she continued. “The library has served the university community well, but in order to continue to fulfill this original vision and to meet the ever-changing research needs of faculty and students, updates and renovations are necessary. Renovations will address deficiencies in spaces, infrastructure, power, technology, furnishings, artificial lighting, and will increase access to natural light.”
Addressing concerns about the construction’s impact on students both during and after the renovations, Kayongo continued: “The project may be noisy at times, but our aim is to schedule the most disruptive construction activities during times when the library is less occupied. We will communicate anticipated occurrences as far in advance as possible to minimize disruption for our users. Signs will help users find their way around and renovation alerts (Ren-Alerts, Construction Maps, and News) will be posted to the renovation website … and to the library’s website, so that people can plan accordingly.”
Freshman Kate Murphy expressed that the renovated space will affect her use of the library. “I already use the library pretty frequently for independent study, but I rarely go there when I’m working with a group. I think that new, updated study spaces will motivate me to utilize the library more for study groups,” she told the Rover.
Murphy continued, “Although the current renovations are kind of an inconvenience, I do think that the finished product will be a huge improvement and allow students to better utilize the space … it’s great that the university realizes that the current library didn’t fully address students’ needs; for example, it’s almost impossible to find an outlet on the first floor of [Hesburgh] on a Sunday. I’m sure that the renovations will address this.”
The library renovations have garnered significantly less attention, despite their occurring concurrently with other campus construction. “I had no idea the university was planning on redoing the library until the renovations began,” Murphy remarked. “However, I think Notre Dame has done a good job updating students on their progress through their campus-wide emails. They sent a link to the library’s website that explains the whole plan in detail, which is incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to follow the transformation.”
Kayongo explained that the renovations will better serve the needs of future students: “The library’s renovation will place the library as a leader in academic library spaces. The overall project aims to provide high quality study environments for our users. We know our students need both quiet study space and collaborative work space, and both of these types of spaces, will be built as we move forward. Ultimately, we want our users to find what they need for study and research in a library setting that is befitting of the caliber of this institution.”
For full details about the renovation project, visit renovation.library.nd.edu.
Stephanie Reuter is a freshman majoring in PLS and living in Welsh Family Hall. Her spot of choice in Club Hes is the Byzantine Reading Room. Discuss the merits of studying among stacks of old books with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.