A $5.5 million plan to renovate two floors of Kansas University’s Anschutz Library would add new furniture and computer equipment, group study and tutoring areas, and a new 50-person classroom space.
The plans will be done with an emphasis on collaborative learning, as well as centralizing a variety of services for KU students. The KU Writing Center will move into the library in the fall.
About $500,000 in improvements will be made for the upcoming fall semester, with the rest of the plan awaiting private funding from KU’s upcoming capital campaign, said Jennifer Church-Duran, assistant KU Libraries dean for user services.
KU Tutoring Services could also make the move to Anschutz in the future, when more money is secured for the project, she said.
This fall, the library will see construction of four new group study areas, with enclosed seating for six to eight people complete with writing surfaces and tables. New furniture will be added, and a cafe will expand to incorporate more substantial food selections and more coffee choices.
A new information booth at the main third floor entrance will be staffed by KU Info students, information technology employees and library reference assistance staffers.
The larger, more ambitious plan aims to create spaces like a 50-seat “e-classroom” on the third floor of the library, where students could sit at tables of six to eight people and view projections displayed at multiple angles. Additional office space, group areas and tutoring spaces would also be added in later phases of the plan, taking up most of the third and fourth floors of the building.
The plan aims to build on an already popular space — Anschutz is often filled with students during finals week and is a popular spot for group work among students.
“We really can tap into the fact that this space is already becoming a central hub for undergraduate activity,” Church-Duran said.
The idea is to create a space where students don’t have to break their concentration to get a cup of coffee or find an answer to a question, she said.
The space is designed to help with Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little’s goals of recruiting and retaining top students, Church-Duran said.
Jessey Gilley, a doctoral student in geography from Lawrence, said he frequently used Anschutz Library as a place to study, sitting in the more comfortable chairs and looking out the windows for a more relaxed environment.
The planned improvements sounded good to him, in particular the group study areas, better furniture and the expanded cafe.
“The Underground (in nearby Wescoe Hall) is nice, but it’s mostly school hours, not study hours,” Gilley said.
Church-Duran said the improvements would be made with an eye toward the future. The more services and features available to students while they’re already in the library setting, she said, the better off everyone is.
“Even in the digital age, the campus library is still the heart of the academic enterprise,” she said.