Walk into the D.H. Hill Jr. Library this week and you’ll be greeted not by the towering Bookstacks but by soft, hanging lights and a grand, open staircase. Faculty offices so small they weren’t accessible have been removed, and long windows looking out onto campus are now dotted along the walls. Colorful chairs and wide tables are still spread across the floors, but the library is brighter, more spacious and more welcoming after a yearlong renovation.
“Students are working hard in our spaces, so we want these to be spaces that can bring them joy,” said Greg Raschke, senior vice provost and director of University Libraries.
While making the space more joyful was a priority, the biggest change during the renovation involved bringing together services that had been scattered across campus. The Hill Library is now home to the Academic Success Center (formerly the University Tutorial Center), the Office of Undergraduate Research, an Innovation Studio, a Data Experience Lab and more.
“We wanted to create a one-stop shop for academic success,” Raschke said.
The University Tutorial Center used to live in 101 Park Shops, off of Stinson Drive. Career counseling was offered in the Counseling Center, on Cates Avenue, and academic advising was held in neighboring Holmes Hall. Now, a student can find all of those services in the Academic Success Center on the Hill Library’s second floor.
“The D.H. Hill Jr. Library renovation strategically places resources and services in a central location to best serve faculty, staff and students,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden. “It’s been a great collaboration between the Libraries and the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, and I think it’s going to be incredibly impactful.”
The Innovation Studio — which will exhibit student and faculty work, host workshops and support instructors teaching innovation — has projectors, blackout shades and a moving glass wall. The Data Experience Lab, staffed with experts in various fields, offers collaboration space, computing resources and guidance for those working with data and creating visualizations. And the Visualization Studio, a 360-degree, 29-foot-wide round projection room, uses high-definition projectors, a high-powered PC and graphics cards to display immersive content created by faculty and students.
To make room for those services, and to make the Hill Library feel more welcoming, two floors of the Bookstacks were emptied and removed. Books that weren’t frequently used were moved to James B. Hunt Jr. Library’s bookBot, which can store up to 2 million books. One central service desk simplifies visitors’ experiences, and knowledgeable staff members are at the ready to point students in the right direction.
The renovation was a collaborative project, bringing together the university’s Facilities Division, the Provost’s Office and the Division of Academic and Student Affairs to benefit the campus community. It’s reflective of the Hill Library’s mission — and the mission of all libraries, at that.
“Libraries are centers for community and collaboration, centers for learning new and emerging technologies and skills,” Raschke said. “Our staff has a forward-looking mentality. To have a competitive advantage, you have to be pushing boundaries.”