Big changes are being implemented across DePauw’s campus, and this trend doesn’t look like it will be stopping any time soon. With renovations to the Lilly Center behind us and Hoover Hall currently under construction, it’s hard to believe that students will soon be privy to a state-of-the-art library as well.
Rick Provine, director of libraries, and Anne Harris of Academic Affairs confirm that such renovations will be taking place.
“We have an outside consultant coming [to DePauw] to host a series of conversations about the library,” Harris said. “The first will be with the library staff. The second, in early October, will be open sessions with faculty and students and then the third will be a planning session.”
These conversations aim to receive input from students and faculty
“These [sessions] are times when students’ voices can be heard and they will be able to shape the space [accordingly],” Harris explained.
Once these sessions have concluded and everyone’s input has been considered, more concrete plans for the renovations will be put into place.
President Brian Casey pointed out that an instrumental decision in the planning process will be whether the library can remain open during the renovation. While it is too early to decide for the library, Casey noted that it was a challenge to keep Lily open during the renovations that were completed in the fall of 2014.
“It’s going to be a period of inconvenience, but the library has to get renovated. It just has to,” said Casey.
Provine speculates that this process will most likely begin with the New Year.
“By the beginning of February, we should have a pretty good idea of the timetable of renovation and the scale of renovation,” he said.
Because this project has been approved as part of the Campaign for DePauw, Provine and Harris said that approximately $5 million has been allocated for the library renovation, although DePauw is still continuing to fundraise in order to enhance expenditure.
Provine states that DePauw has known for several years that the library requires renovations, and about 18 months ago preliminary steps were taken to determine the scope of what needs to be done. Brad Kelsheimer, vice president for Finance and Administration, confirmed that some level of financing has been secured by the University.
“There’s a lot of different ways that we could renovate the library," Kelsheimer said. "One is a refresh, so new paint, new carpeting, new furniture, stop there. We think we need to explore something that’s a little more meaningful than a refresh that really gives homage to academic tradition.”
Aside from academic tradition, the administration is keeping in mind that library needs to be suited to the technological and modern day needs of its users.
“It’s been 30 years since the library was last renovated,” Provine said, “you can imagine that there has been a tremendous change in terms of the tools we use, i.e. smart phones, personal laptops, as well as how people work.”
Provine along with his staff have conducted numerous studies to determine what elements are essential to contemporary student study habits and how they need to be incorporated into the renovations. Examples of these requirements include bolstering the technological infrastructure of the library and introducing more collaborative study spaces.
“There have been very good studies of student behaviors and student uses of the library,” Harris said, “and I really admire how Rick [Provine] has been watching that and developing his ideas in response.”
Harris went on to state that the architecture for the new library will be a good reflection of the changes in students’ study requirements.
“This is a time when DePauw is really thinking about how its architecture frames experiences. For the library, it’s the sense of work and collaboration and access that makes the academic tradition at DePauw so great,” said Harris.