Everett Library’s Innovative Renovation

The following article was featured on the Queens University of Charlotte website on August 29, 2014.

As students return to Everett Library this week at Queens, they might not recognize the place. The stunning transformation of the library’s second floor is a surprise summer renovation that will change the way our campus thinks of the library and the learning within.

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Everett Library’s new “Study Bar” includes power and internet connectivity and looks out over the university’s main quad.

University libraries nationwide are experiencing an identity crisis. In 1960, when Everett Library was a new building, its shelves and walls created an academic hub for the Queens campus. The volumes of books, periodicals and learning tools made the building a storehouse for knowledge ready to inspire learning. Everett, and libraries like it across the nation, served their universities well with a quiet atmosphere befitting the sanctity of the knowledge contained within. But, sometime around the turn of the century, just as Everett received a beautiful new façade, knowledge went digital.

“Information can be found in so many places outside of the library,” notes David Barnes, incoming president of the Class of 2015. “For Queens students, it’s important we have a place to bring ideas to be shared and contested.” This sharing of ideas in both formal and casual learning spaces was the inspiration for the renovation plan.

“It’s a little less about total volumes of books that take up all the space and more about a coffee house feel that encourages reasonable interactions,” remarks Troy Luttman, the university’s Associate Vice President for Campus Planning and Services. Luttman notes that the updated second floor includes collaborative work spaces, a new study room, updated furnishings and shelving and a study bar equipped with power and Internet ports. The bar’s location along the front glass walls allows patrons to visually interact with the main campus quadrangle, get lost in thought, or work together on team tasks.

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Partitioned collaborative learning spaces like this one fill one quadrant of the second floor of Everett Library.

The new collaborative workspaces of the second floor include furniture and art in vibrant shades of red, orange, purple, and yellow that beckon library patrons to sit and collaborate together. These collaborative areas near the windows are a new favorite spot for university provost Dr. Lynn Morton, “The natural light coupled with the comfortable space and white board make it a truly pleasant place to be,” she says. “Library spaces serve a different purpose fundamentally than the social spaces, but they can be both learning AND social spaces. Talk and learn! Meet me on the second floor of Everett!”

With the renovations, Everett Library is changing the student experience on campus. The variety of different spaces encourages multiple simultaneous uses. University Librarian Joli McClelland hopes that the library will be an increasingly central area for students, faculty and alumni to gather. “The contemporary university library goes beyond the repository of books that we used to know and is transformed into a vital organ of collaboration and innovation, of serendipity and shelves, of hanging out and hunkering down.”

As university libraries around the nation try to re-imagine their place in the academic landscape, the renovations at Everett Library demonstrate that Queens remains nimble and agile in our changing world. Moreover, the new second floor serves as an invitation to experience learning in new ways. We at Queens invite you to learn with us.

The author, associate professor John A. McArthur of the Knight School of Communication, recently researched the future of libraries alongside Master of Arts in Communication student Valerie Graham (’14). Their article, “User-Experience Design and Libraries: A Pathway to Innovation?” will appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the Journal of Library Innovation.

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