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Forum Will Explore Construction Benefits, Effects on Students

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Expanded study areas, dedicated student group office spaces and a larger café with more menu choices are among the features that will emerge from an extensive renovation of Spahr Library at the University of Kansas School of Engineering. To complete this work as quickly and safely as possible, Spahr Engineering Library will close for the Spring 2015 semester.

A Construction Update Forum is planned for 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, April 28, in the classroom on the second floor of Spahr Library. Students can learn more about the overall construction project, Spahr Library renovations, plans for alternate study locations, options for accessing library materials as well as ask questions and offer suggestions.

“These improvements are a key component to student success as engineering enrollment continues to grow. Spahr Library will be a much more user-friendly place when it reopens in the summer of 2015,” said JoAnn Browning, associate dean for administration in the School of Engineering.

The Spahr Library renovation is part of the LEEP 2 construction project, with a main-campus element featuring a 100,000 square foot building that provides new classrooms, labs and student gathering space. Administrators had hoped to keep portions of the library open during construction, however, it has become clear that a brief closure is needed to maintain student safety and protect the collections.

“We know there will be growing pains as we make these upgrades. We’ve worked hard to minimize the time the library will be closed and to provide alternate study areas and easy access to materials,” Browning said.

Browning said students will still have multiple places to study throughout the engineering complex. Those include the SELF Computing Commons, departmental computer labs, and classrooms any time they are not in use. Plans also call for the 2148 Learned Hall classroom to be converted to temporary study space for students.

School of Engineering leaders have worked closely with officials from KU Libraries to ensure students have easy access to resources and materials during the closure. Low-use materials will be moved to the Library Annex this summer. Staff and more frequently used collections will make the move to the Anschutz Library after the end of the Fall 2014 semester.

“Its proximity to the School of Engineering and high usage by students are the reasons we felt (Anschutz) was the best option,” Browning said. A recent survey of engineering students showed Anschutz was the second most visited library after Spahr. Engineering students are also welcome at any other KU library, including those nearest the engineering complex at Green Hall and Murphy Hall.

Spahr Librarian Keith Russell will have an office in the engineering complex throughout the renovation to provide on-site research assistance to students and faculty.

The remodeled Spahr Library is expected to reopen before the Fall 2015 semester.

“We’re committed to making this as smooth as we can for students. I encourage students to attend the forum and ask questions or offer suggestions. We understand there will be inconveniences, but our hope is that the long-term reward will be worth the short-term discomfort,” Browning said.

Students can also submit questions and offer feedback by emailing JoAnn Browning at jpbrown@ku.edu or Kent Miller, associate dean of libraries, at kmiller@ku.edu.

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