Parks Library renovations to facilitate student collaboration


With Study Week and Finals Week quickly approaching, more resources will become available for students. Parks Library will have longer open hours, and there will be relaxing activities for students throughout the week. There will also be specific classrooms across campus reserved as quiet study rooms for students.

Morgan Laviolette

Parks Library underwent renovations this summer, adding tools and areas to better facilitate student production and group projects.

Since its completion in 1983, Parks Library has not had any large-scale renovations. As technology has grown and developed over time, student need for accessible wifi and computers has increased drastically. 

Hilary Seo, interim dean of library services, said the main goal of the renovations was to provide students with tools they didn’t have access to before.

“Think about what wasn’t there or wasn’t available when that part of the building was built,” Seo said. “That was pre-internet as we know it, pre-mobile devices. So our students’ needs have changed drastically.”

Seo said the number one request from students was an increase in available outlets, and they responded to this by adding new furniture with built-in outlets, including 200 new chairs. 

Last year 2.2 million students visited the library overall, Seo said, with 11,000 coming in on a daily basis.

The increase in the student body and library visitors led to a higher demand for available space. Seo said as the curriculum changed over time, students began to use the library for more than checking out books and individual studying.

“The needs of the students are changing, that’s partly because of what they’re being asked to do,” Seo said. “Their class assignments [have changed]. They’re being asked to work on collaborative projects, they’re expected to incorporate more technology into presentations, [such as] multi-media. There’s still a need for individual quiet study, there’s group study, there’s tutoring and we are responding to these needs.”

Seo said the renovations cost about $1.23 million, which included the construction, planning and furniture.

“[Facilities Planning and Management] actually came to us and asked if there were any projects that they could support with their maintenance and improvement funds,” Seo said. “So, that committee really was intrigued by this project so they provided $125,000, and, independent of that, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust from Muscatine, Iowa, also heard about this […] and they graciously donated $200,000 as well.”

Seo said the library often relies on donors, such as alumni and friends, to fund these big projects.

“We rely heavily on donors, and the library may not get the biggest dollar donors but overtime,” Seo said. “Those contributions from $20, $100, $500 — those add up.”

Students now have access to the full range of Parks Library with the renovations being totally complete.

“When we opened our doors, actually the weekend before classes started, there were a lot of students coming back in and looking around […] we heard words like ‘this is so awesome’ and ‘this is so modern,’” Seo said. “But my favorite story is the comment from the student who said ‘I am so proud that this is my library.’”