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Willis Library completes its renovation for more open floor plan

Willis Library completes its renovation for more open floor plan

Willis Library completes its renovation for more open floor plan
October 10
12:00 2020

Willis Library completed two major renovation projects, which include a more open plan for the first floor and improvements to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems in the building.

“Giving the space back more to the students [was the university’s goal],” project manager Cheryl Smith said.“To me, [students] seem happy and they love it. If a person has their feet propped up and they’re able to have their online class in there, that’s a success.”

One of the renovations involved enhancing the natural light in the room and adding LED lighting to make the space more open. The computer lab also added glass windows.

“[The university] really wanted to kind of open all the windows up,” Smith said. “If you go into the library, you lose time. You go back outside and you’re like, ‘Oh my lord, it’s dark now.’ Well now, you still have that connection to the outside.”

“The Factory” was originally a room on the first floor with SD printers and Cricut and embroidery machines. Now called “The Spark,” the machinery is no longer in a private room, but available on tables on the same floor.

“They have all kinds of things back there that students can use,” Smith said. “I think [the equipment] is really just being utilized more and we’re letting students know, ‘Hey, all of this is for you.’” 

Political science senior Jocelyn Berg said there are downsides to concentrating the equipment and services in one room. 

“I honestly feel like with all the open space it can be a very distracting environment,” Berg said. “I would love there to be new private study areas.”

Berg said she is visually handicapped and rarely goes to the library because it is not accessible enough for her.

“I just feel like these student spaces aren’t really built with disabled students in mind, which is rather disappointing,” Berg said. “These kinds of renovations are always [trying] to make things easier or better for able-bodied people without concern for how they will affect the various disabled students.” 

While the tables are the same, the library is outfitted with new chairs and lounge furniture.

“I personally love the new renovations,” integrative studies junior Madeline Genuardi said. “[But] I think there should still be more seating and work areas. I know we’re in a pandemic right now and we’re trying to social distance. But even before this, the only way I could find a spot to study was if I rented a study room.” 

Smith is an interior design alumn and previously renovated Sage Hall. She said it is fun to see what the building looks like now compared to before.

“When I was a student, I never liked going to the library because [it felt] so drab in there,” Smith said. “I think it’s a more calming and relaxing and energetic space when I walk in now.”

Featured Image: Students work under the new wooden structure in Willis Library on Oct. 5, 2020. Image by John Anderson

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Makayla Herron

Makayla Herron

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