When students return to campus this fall, they will find one of the most popular study spaces on campus transformed.
W&J’s U. Grant Miller Library will receive a complete renovation thanks to a generous gift from Board of Trustees Chair Richard T. Clark ’68 and his wife, Angela.
The Clarks’ donation is the leadership gift of a $6 million project that makes the upgrades possible and will provide for a comprehensive update of the current library space. In recognition of the Clarks’ commitment to W&J and its students, the library will be renamed in their honor.
“We are excited about the library renovations and know that they will provide an improved user experience,” said Director of Library Services Ronalee Ciocco. “The renovated library will provide more collaborative work spaces for students, including study rooms and flexible furniture to accommodate a variety of learning styles and study.”
Many of the changes being made in the library are a direct response to student requests made in surveys from 2013 and 2017. Suggestions for more comfortable furniture, improvements in technology, added group study areas, and updated restroom facilities, among others, are being addressed through the overhaul.
“I think that the renovation will draw more students to the library, making it a more study friendly and resourceful environment. I am excited to come back next year to a new library,” said Claudia Peterman ’19, a student library worker.
The upper level of the library will be turned into an Information Commons, a gathering space for patrons to read, socialize, and collaborate. The addition of small conference-style study rooms equipped with technology will allow students to work in groups without disturbing others.
The lower level will receive updates to support the library’s collection and expand quiet study areas, along with a new digital classroom and a one-stop User Services Desk that will make asking for help easier. The historic Walker Room will undergo some changes but the original endowed furniture, fireplace, and light fixtures are remaining in the room.
The project will also improve the archives to include special shelving for the College’s unique first editions and rare books, as well as space for reading, researching, and processing.
“The Learned T. Bulman ’48 Historic Archives and Museum will be expanded to allow more use of our unique historical collections,” Ciocco said. “The renovation will also allow us to improve our services for students, faculty and staff by combining service points on the main floor so a patron can go to one desk for any question that they have and get an answer.”
“A History of Success and Innovation”
The U. Grant Miller Library first opened for student use in the spring of 1966, when Clark was a sophomore at W&J. At the time, the new building was state of the art, an upgrade from the library’s previous home in Thompson Hall. The alumni magazine gushed over its many features.
“It should be understood that architecturally [the Library] compares favorably with its many recently erected counterparts on college and university campuses throughout the country,” the Spring 1966 edition of the magazine touted. “Not only has it more than twice the space of its predecessor, but that space is arranged in ways that provides quiet and isolation for study that were not possible before.”
This upcoming renovation will be another step forward for the campus, helping provide current W&J students with the latest technology and access to the materials they need. When the new building was completed in the mid-60s, microfilm reader-printers, instant copiers, and inter-library television equipment were the cutting-edge innovations lauded in the alumni magazine.
“The history of success and innovation at W&J speaks for itself,” Clark said. “I consider myself fortunate to be in a position where I can give back to the College that taught me so much, and to help provide resources for its outstanding students. I look forward to watching the College continue its tradition of excellence for years to come.”
Work on the project is scheduled to begin in mid-May and be completed by the end of August.