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Bender Library Gets an Upgrade

Inside of Bender Library lobby

Our recent renovation is the first of many efforts to improve the Library experience for students, staff, and faculty. By enhancing our space and streamlining service points, we provide a more conducive environment for learning, studying, research, and productivity.

Planning for this project started in 2013, with the completion of work on a building program. This program, with input from Library personnel from all units, as well as feedback from faculty and from student assessments, helped the Library understand what our guiding principles should be around space for users, collections, and staff. We also looked at principles around noise, natural lighting, and seating. This program was used by the architectural firm SmithGroup to arrive at the current design.

Our renovations began May 16th, 2017 and were completed in three months’ time. During that time we made a number of improvements:

  • Increased seating on the first floor by 31% and increased the number of tables on the 1st floor. Students told us that they come to the Library to get work done and be productive, and our observations backed that up. Our existing tables were very popular, so we increased the amount available.
  • Increased student study rooms by 17%. Sometimes students want to meet with a group, or study with fewer distractions. We increased the number of study rooms to help meet the need for this kind of learning space.
  • Maximized natural lighting by reconfiguring our first floor and moving study rooms away from windows. All groups we talked with noted that the Library was dark, and they all wanted more natural light. We opened up the front of the 1st floor, and now light streams in from multiple angles, making it a brighter and more inviting space.

We also combined our desk services to provide easier access points for patrons. Course reserves and borrowing merged to form our Circulation and Course Reserves desk on the first level. Here you can borrow books from the general and reserve collections, obtain a locker, review your account information, or pay your fines. Media and technology services can be found in our Media and Technology Center on the lower level; where visual media and technology items are available for loan. Our Archives, Curriculum Materials Center, and Technical Services have relocated to Spring Valley. The Music Library remains in the Katzen Arts Center.

The Library invites the AU Community to check out our new space. To find out more about the progress we made this summer, visit us online at http://www.american.edu/library/ and connect with us on social media!