Call for Roy O. West renovation, library called ‘depressing’ reminiscent of a ‘hospital or jail’

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A severed piece of wood pierces the back
of a chair on the second floor of Roy O. West Library.
SAM CARAVANA/THE DEPAUW

DePauw University’s library houses books dating back 537 years, but many faculty, students and staff are ready to rid themselves of the old Roy O. West. Amidst the vast construction on campus, DePauw’s library has been left out.

The winter term Board of Trustees meeting included the discussion of updates on current capital projects. One of the projects discussed included future renovations for Roy O. West Library despite unsecure funding.

Discussion about renovating the library has been circulated for a while according Tiffany Hebb, librarian and Coordinator of Instruction at Roy.

“We have had a lot of close calls with renovations since I have been here, it seems to be that architects have dropped starter plans but it never reached the top or the renovation list,” said Hebb.

Hebb is finishing her thirteenth year with DePauw and agrees that the library is due for renovation.

“It would be nice to have facilities that matched the engagement students have with their work,” said Hebb.

Hebb thinks the library needs a better space for group studying and facilities that allow students to use technology freely.

Sophomore and library employee, Lincy Jones, agrees that the inside of the library needs to be changed.

“The library needs more areas that are more comfortable for group studying,” said Jones.

Roy O. West Library was first constructed as a centerpiece for the Holton Quad in the 1950s. However the outside of the original building was renovated during the summer of 2001 to make the library more pleasing to the eye and correspond with its neighboring buildings Harrison Hall and Asbury Hall.

CSO architects, a company based in Indianapolis, designed and placed the columns raising the building, which transformed the entrance of the library.  

Many students including first-year Mary Ann Etling think the updated entrance is more pleasing than the inside.

“It’s a beautiful building on the outside but it needs a better appearance in the inside that is more open and has better lighting,” said Etling.

Hebb agrees that the library should be properly updated with facilities to support the students. Just recently the Lilly Recreation Center officially achieved LEED Gold status. This means that it has received a designation from the U.S. Green Building Council signifying that the building has met leading standards of sustainable construction and building use. Other buildings that have achieved LEED gold status include Prindle Insititute and the Bartlett Reflection Center. Potential library renovations should take attaining these certifications into account.

“The library should be the living room for the students, you want a space where people enjoy going to,” said Hebb.

Hebb is not the only employee in Roy that thinks Roy is due for a renovation, and is hopeful for change.

“It needs to be more open and welcoming when you walk in,” said excess services employee Tina Oerken. “I would like to see it brighter, it seems sterile and reminds me of a hospital or jail.”

Even though Etling says she believes that the library is a good place to study, very few students seem to like the inside of the library at all.

“I actually hate the library,” said sophomore Becca Conley. “I don’t go past the first floor because I think it’s depressing."