The newly completed work on the UC Santa Barbara Library is more than just a renovation of its outdated buildings. The project is a reinvention of what an academic library at a top-tier research institution aspires to be and can be.
That’s how university officials are describing the state-of-the-art project, which was first proposed two decades ago. Two years of construction culminated last week with a festive “Reinventing the Library” grand opening ceremony, featuring speakers, dancers, musicians, a ribbon-cutting, a photo booth, and an open house.
Key features and major components of the UCSB Library project, designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects, include:
- A three-story building addition on the north side of the library for Special Research Collections, with state-of-the art technology for preservation; Interdisciplinary Research Collaboratory; and 24-hour Learning Commons.
- Complete renovation and seismic retrofit of the original two-story building to house the Art & Architecture Collection, plus additional study, gathering, collections, and exhibition spaces.
- A new “Paseo,” or grand walkway, that connects all parts of the library as well as the east and west sides of campus, and serves as the library’s new entrance.
- The addition of about 60,000 square feet and the renovation of about 92,000 square feet.
- LEED Silver certification. Environmentally friendly features include recycled and regional building materials; reflective roof and ground; energy-efficient lighting; window filters; and water-saving steps such as low-flow faucets and drought-tolerant outdoor landscaping.
- 20 percent more study space.
- Expanded wireless access and more power outlets.
- A sit-down eatery called the Summit Café.
- Bright reading galleries.
University Librarian Denise Stephens told the GradPost that specific programs and areas will be of particular interest to grad students. “As both scholars and instructors,” she said, “graduate students will benefit from new library programs such as the Interdisciplinary Research Collaboratory, which encourages and inspires data creation and analysis across all disciplines; a new Graduate Study that allows for quiet individual work; and group study areas throughout that allow for conversation and collaboration. We hope the new library, designed in part with feedback from graduate students, will serve their needs and allow them to engage with information in the most productive and meaningful ways – online or on site.”
“I think the library has always been the heart and soul of the university.” – Danelle Moon, head of the library’s Special Research Collections
Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti said the building, with its new spaces, has stirred enthusiasm on campus. “It is thrilling to have the beautiful new library open, to walk through its halls, and to see that it has already become a significant locus of student study and interaction,” she said. “I predict it will become iconic for the campus, exemplifying the collaborative and interdisciplinary interaction that is the hallmark of UC Santa Barbara. The new resources, such as the Collaboratory and the redesigned special collections, will both enhance and accelerate graduate research. I’ve been on campus for more than 25 years and I’ve never before had the feeling that a new building was such a source of excitement and renewal. I couldn’t be more pleased!”
The grand opening ceremony featured speeches by University Librarian Denise Stephens; Chancellor Henry T. Yang; Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall; GSA President Aaron Jones; and Associated Students President Jimmy Villareal; as well as performances and music by students from the UCSB Departments of Music, and Theater & Dance.
“I think the library has always been the heart and soul of the university,” Danelle Moon, head of the library’s Special Research Collections, said in an Office of Public Affairs and Communications video, posted below. “You can just see the excitement on the students’ faces coming in and oohing and ahhing over the new building – the architecture, the furniture. … It’s telling that the students are embracing the importance and the significance of the library and through their studies they are going to be documenting the significance of what libraries hold, which is the history of the world.”
For more information about the UCSB Library, including entrances; new spaces and places; the new Summit Café; and events and exhibitions, visit the “Reinvented UCSB Library” page. And you may view a fun gallery of grand opening photo-booth images in this Flickr album.