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Library begins interior renovations

| Wednesday, December 10, 2014

With the conclusion of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Hesburgh Library in May, the building will begin a multi-phase interior renovation project Dec. 22.

University librarian Diane Walker said the research and scholarship needs of students have changed dramatically in the last 50 years.

The renovation of the Hesburgh Library starting this month will open up the first and second floors and add new study spaces. Photo Courtesy of Hesburgh Libraries — University of Notre Dame

The renovation of the Hesburgh Library starting this month will open up the first and second floors and add new study spaces.

“Technology is rapidly changing the landscape of teaching, learning and research at Notre Dame,” Walker said. “As teaching methods and instructional tools evolve, new spaces that support interdisciplinary research, multimedia assignments and collaborative group study are critical to intellectual engagement and, ultimately, academic success.”

Librarian Jessica Kayongo said the renovation aims to provide the library’s users a high-quality study environment, which will place it as a leader in academic library spaces.

“Ultimately, we want our users to find what they need for study and research and to be as inspired by the physical surroundings within Hesburgh Library as they are by the mural on its iconic exterior,” Kayongo said.

Phase I of the renovation focuses on transforming the entrance gallery and tower floor 10, Kayongo said. A new entrance will be installed on the north side of the building, and the formation of new openings will create “vertical connections between the floors.”

Renovations also include the addition of a skylight on the north end, adjacent to a new reading room on the second floor, and a south-facing view from the second floor out toward the stadium, Kayongo said.

“These changes, we hope, will address user concerns we have heard over the years, particularly in terms of wayfinding and natural light,” she said. “Renovation of the 10th floor will [also] open up limited window access to more of our users.”

Later renovation phases will also replace the wooden study carrels with updated furniture and add a scholar’s lounge, special collections room and grand reading room, according to the Notre Dame website.

“The entire project is several phases, likely to take several years, but completion of subsequent project phases is dependent on benefaction,” Kayongo said.

Walker said future phases will include the creation of the Collaboration Hub, which will “provide dynamic, flexible and inspirational environments with hi-tech capabilities where groups of students from various disciplines can work across multiple platforms to explore projects and research questions.”

Renovation will also address students’ concerns for quiet, contemplative study spaces with the addition of a Grand Reading Room facing west, along with several smaller rooms for individual workspace, Walker said. Critical infrastructure issues such as the addition of electrical outlets will also be addressed in order to support research and learning, she said.

“Some of the overarching features that will tie the renovation together [are] making neighborhoods, introducing natural light, creating connections and transforming learning spaces,” Walker said.

Level 1 North View - New North Entrance Photo Courtesy of Hesburgh Libraries — University of Notre Dame
While renovation planning lasted the duration of 2013, Kayongo said the majority of 2014 was spent developing specific design details. The final design was a collaboration between the Shepley [Bulfinch] architects, the Facilities Design & Operations, the renovation steering committee and various campus service providers.

“It is truly exciting [for] library renovation to begin, as the building has not seen any major renovation, except to the lower level and the penthouse, since it opened 50 years ago,” Kayongo said.

Walker said the 50th anniversary celebration of the Hesburgh Library was an opportunity to reflect on the past and on the “original vision that this library would stand as a symbol of academic excellence for the world to see.”

“We are excited, now, to look ahead to the next 50 years and beyond,” she said.

Students are invited to attend the Farewell to the Floor open house on the second floor of Hesburgh Library Wednesday at 4 p.m. The event will feature refreshments, music and a sign-the-floor event.

To learn more about the renovation process go to renovation.library.nd.edu

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About Carolyn Hutyra

Carolyn Hutyra serves as an Assistant News Editor for The Observer. She is a senior from Arlington Heights, Illinois studying Biology and Anthropology.

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