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Shain Library renovation planned

A Schwartz/ Silver Architects rendering of what the renovated Shain Library might look like.
A Schwartz/ Silver Architects rendering of what the renovated Shain Library might look like.

Within the next two years, Connecticut College's Charles E. Shain Library will undergo a major renovation to better serve the changing needs of students. The College has been planning the project in consultation with Schwartz/ Silver Architects of Boston for several years.

At its meeting on campus last month, the Board of Trustees reviewed potential designs and confirmed that the renovation will be the final major facilities project of the $200 million Campaign for Connecticut College, which will conclude on June 30, 2013.

"Shain Library is already central to the student experience," President Leo I. Higdon Jr. said. "With new technology, workspaces and social spaces, the renovated Shain Library will support the most modern approaches to teaching and learning for years to come."

Increased use of digital resources, emerging technologies and changes in pedagogy are transforming the way students use libraries. After the renovation, Shain will provide more individual and collaborative study spaces; technology-rich, flexible group and individual study areas; a full-service information commons; a transformed building entry and significantly more natural light in study areas.

"When Shain was built in 1976, libraries were used primarily as physical repositories for books and other scholarly materials," said Lee Hisle, vice president for information services and librarian of the College. "In today's digital world, they need to support the academic program and the student experience in many more ways."

The College plans to fund the renovation entirely through gifts, and the final scope of the project will depend on the amount of money raised for it. Preliminary plans were reviewed by Christopher Stewart, a faculty member at Dominican University and expert on academic library design. In his report to the College, Stewart noted that the project expresses bold change for a building that will serve as a center for academic, social and cultural life.

"Students have been clear about their expectations, and we've developed this project with their feedback in mind," Hisle said.

Earlier this year, the College announced it will create an Academic Resource Center funded by an $11 million gift made to the College by an anonymous donor. That gift includes funding to renovate the third floor of Shain to house the new Center, which will integrate academic support and skill development services to help students excel in an increasingly rigorous academic environment.

The upcoming Shain renovation will build on previous library projects, including the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections & Archives and the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room. Fundraising for the project is under way and the College expects to finish the renovation in two years.

November 9, 2012