“It was an old, dingy place. And, in the span of three months, it had really transformed.”
Renovations in the Carlson Library have completely changed the space, according to Beau Case, the new dean of University Libraries. The recent construction marks the last in a series of stages that completely changed the look of the library, inside and out. The first four floors now match in a modern, architectural style.
One of the most notable changes to Carlson is the addition of floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the east side of the building. Case called this a “glass curtain.”
“It’s more welcoming, and in the morning, it’ll look spectacular. The morning sun comes through and it's very bright in here,” Case said. “Libraries used to be vaults. ‘Light’s bad for books,’ well, lack of light is bad for humans.”
Inside the building, the double-door entrances have been pushed farther into the building to cut down on the amount of heat lost and cold air brought in, according to Dave Remaklus, director of operations in Carlson Library. Currently, the south entrance to the library is still closed but will be reopened by the end of September.
The library’s elevators were redone on the inside to reflect the new look of the library. Also, the first-floor desks for circulation and reference will stay the same, but with the smaller desk becoming one for IT staff and reference librarians. Case calls it a desk of “expertise.”
“The knowledge of IT and the friendliness of library coming together,” Case laughed. “In all seriousness, it’s really true. They’ll be side-by-side with the reference librarians.”
According to Case, besides some paint and new signage, the most recognizable change is the atrium that is opened up to the second floor from the first. Case and Remaklus both said that this change allows the “hustle and bustle” of the first floor to carry up to the second.
“The second floor has always been designated as a nosier area,” Case said. “It's the more collaborative floor.”
Remkalus said that after the third and fourth floor renovations were completed last fall, the library conducted surveys of student satisfaction and kept statistics on how many students used the library during the day and evening. He said many times, study rooms and seating were almost at capacity all the time.
“We already had data,” Remaklus said. “We had surveys from the students, surveys and such, about what they like about the third and fourth floor, what they want more or less of. Group study rooms are always really important.”
The finished second floor increases the amount of study rooms in Carlson. There are 48 group study rooms that seat between four and 12 students. Remaklus said that private study rooms are a top priority that the library wanted to provide for students.
“I’m sure they will always be full. Students love them,” Case said. “On the second floor, we have active learning spaces. It’s kind of like the little group study rooms that are actually on the main floor. Those are really popular too. I don’t think students really care, for the most part, if they are in a private room. They just want a place where they can get together.”
These spaces are complete with whiteboard “walls” on three sides for students to use. Much of the seating available is also movable, which helps students who like to be active while they learn.
A completely new addition to the library is the LTC Thomas J. Orlowski, '65 Veterans Lounge, on the second floor. University’s Veterans Lounge will relocate from its current location in Rocket Hall. According to UT News, a $20,000 donation from the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes supported the creation of the new lounge. The coalition’s gift was made in recognition of Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski, a UT alumnus and Army veteran who is the immediate past chairman of the organization’s board.
The lounge will be opened on Sept. 15 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It is a study space provided for military students, complete with desk space and comfortable seating.
“The library is happy to offer these spaces for a variety of groups on campus,” Case said.
The library construction cost around $3 million for this construction, which Remaklus said they kept to. The project was funded through state appropriation dollars that were awarded to UT.