Shain Library honored as a New Landmark Library

The publication Library Journal recently named the College’s Charles E. Shain Library a New Landmark Library, one of five college libraries in the country to receive the distinction. New Landmark Libraries are “academic libraries that are setting the standard for both new construction and renovations,” according to the publication.

Shain Library, built in 1976, recently went through a nearly $10 million renovationthat embraced the building’s original design while increasing technology, adding more natural light, and providing both quiet study and collaborative space.

It was this innovative and exemplary redesign that earned Shain Library the honor. “The renovation… builds on a strong foundation of the past to nurture a new generation of students,” Library Journal stated. “Thoughtful repurposing and creative reorganization epitomizes this project.”

The Shain Library renovation was also recently highlighted by The Associated Press, which explained the shifting role of libraries on college campuses, and featured in a slideshow of renovated library designs in American Libraries Magazine.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, Shain Library will be featured on a webcast sponsored by Library Journal. Representatives from other colleges and universities, as well as architects, will have the chance to hear about the renovation process from College staff members including Lee Hisle, vice president of information services and librarian of the College, and Chris Penniman, director of instructional technology.

Other college and university libraries recognized by Library Journal included Virginia Commonwealth University, North Carolina State University, University of Washington and Grand Valley State University.

Connecticut College News September 2016

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The Associated Press spotlights Shain Library

Shain Library

College libraries around the country are shape shifting.

"There really has been a complete shift in the idea of what a library is doing on a campus, a shift from a concept of a place for preserving knowledge to a space for creation and collaboration," Katherine Bergeron, president of Connecticut College, told The Associated Press.

The AP interviewed President Bergeron for an Aug. 19 story about college libraries in the digital age. According to The AP, "hundreds of schools, from Ivy League universities to community colleges, have remade their libraries as colorful hubs of college life."

Photos of the newly renovated Charles E. Shain Library were among those featured to show how libraries have transformed from repositories for books to more comfortable social spaces of "creation and collaboration," as President Bergeron said.

Shain Library was built in 1976 with small windows to help protect materials from sunlight. Kurt Vonnegut dubbed it "The Noodle Factory" during his speech at the building’s 1976 dedication. It was, as The AP’s photos reveal, renovated to emphasize natural light and to become a communal space.

Connecticut College News August 2016

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The 'Noodle Factory' Reborn

Connecticut College’s Charles E. Shain Library — dubbed “The Noodle Factory” by Kurt Vonnegut during his speech at the building’s 1976 dedication — underwent a transformative renovation during the 2014-15 academic year. The  building, originally constructed in the Brutalist style, is now an airy, modern marvel filled with natural light. Watch the video to see what's new.

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Shain Library reopens after extensive renovation

Inside the new Shain Library
Inside the new Shain Library

With a quick snip of a ribbon, the newly transformed Charles E. Shain Library was officially reopened on March 23, a full five months earlier than anticipated.

"This is going to be the epicenter of learning on this campus," President Katherine Bergeron said at the campus opening. "The striking renovation of Shain Library offers a useful symbol for the promise of the next decade: to build on the strong foundation of the past, to lift our sights even higher, and to look into the future for new solutions, in order to nurture a new generation of students with the knowledge, creativity, and skill to lead."

The $9.875 million project was completed well ahead of schedule. The fast-tracked opening allows the campus community to end the academic year with full use of the library’s completely refurbished classrooms and collaborative study areas, new high-tech tools for learning and onsite scholastic resources, and a beautiful new café that will also provide a 24-hour study space.

"Reopening Shain early benefits the entire College community, but perhaps most especially members of our senior class, who get to experience the beautiful remodeled space before they graduate in May," said Lee Hisle, vice president for information services and librarian of the College. 

During her remarks, Bergeron described the joy on students' faces as they toured the new building and discovered each of its exciting features during a March 22 sneak peak event timed to their return from Spring Break.

Student Government President Ethan Underhill '15 called the early opening of Shain "quite a parting gift" for the Class of 2015. "We originally thought we would not be able to see all that Shain would have to offer," he said. "But because the College kept itself ahead of schedule, the Class of 2015, too, has the chance to reap the early benefits of this enormous project."

Vice President for Administration Ulysses Hammond attributed the early opening to “the best and most imaginative management team ever,” along with the cooperation of the entire campus community.

“In addition, some items with long lead times arrived early, and we had unbelievable weather that allowed us to complete a few projects ahead of schedule, such as pouring concrete and landscaping in the fall. It’s all come together so well, and we couldn’t be happier that students, especially seniors, will be able to use the library during finals in the spring,” Hammond said. 

Members of the College community played a key role in determining renovation priorities, and the new library reflects their input and better serves their needs, as well as the needs of future students and patrons. Alumni, parents and friends of the College will be invited to celebrate the reopening of Shain at Commencement and during Fall Weekend.

The new Shain Library features:

  • The Technology Commons, which includes two gifts from Diane Y. Williams ’59: A Christie MicroTile Visualization Wall and a bank of high-performance workstations. The Visualization Wall is the first of its kind among New England liberal arts colleges and allows students and faculty to view projects on a large, high-quality “digital canvas.” Nearby, an area with high-performance, dual-monitor workstations are able to run the most demanding software applications.
  • The Digital Scholarship and Curriculum Center, which uses advanced instructional technology tools to help faculty develop innovative teaching methodologies and help students produce quality multimedia projects.
  • The Academic Resource Center (ARC), which offers programming that supports academic excellence to help all students reach their highest scholastic potential. ARC also houses Student Accessibility Services and provides space for tutors and the career services program to work with students.
  • Ten reservable collaboration rooms, each outfitted with whiteboard walls and LCD panels on which students can share laptop displays.
  • Two new reading rooms on the second and third floors, which each hold 32 individual study spaces.
  • A bigger Blue Camel Café, the popular coffee and snack shop, which is located in a prominent first-floor spot and doubles as a 24-hour study space.
  • A much more robust wireless network infrastructure to handle the ever-increasing digital load.
  • Electrical outlets near every seat in the building to keep laptops, phones and other devices charged.
  • A living room-style area just inside the front doors that will be ideal for receptions and other events tied to the Chu Room and serve as casual study space at other times.
  • An expansive plaza that replaced what was commonly known as the “moat” in front of the building.
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Behind the scenes of a Shain Library 'book pull'

Dana Sorkin '16, video blogger for the ConnCollegeLive Experience, tagged along on a nightly "book pull" to see how a book request ends up at the circulation desk while Shain Library is offline. She writes: With final exams only a few days away, Conn students are busy scouring research materials for projects and papers. Shain Library is currently undergoing extensive renovations (It will be open when we return from Spring Break!), so we aren't able to browse the stacks like usual, but all the library's books and resources are still available. I went behind-the-scenes and into the construction zone with library staff to see how our book requests move from Shain to the temporary circulation desk each night.

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The finals countdown

Information Services will offer extra hours and services during finals. They include:

  • Round-the-clock hours in Blaustein, beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10, until 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16. There will be snacks, puzzles and other diversions for those moments when you need a break.
  • Greer Music Library will be open each day until midnight from Thursday, Dec. 11, through Sunday, Dec. 14, and will be open until 11 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15.
  • The Language & Culture Center will offer extended weekend hours opening from 10 a.m. until midnight through Sunday, Dec. 14.
  • Research assistance will be available in person at the reference desk in Ernst, and by chat, phone (860-439-2655), text (860-787-5001) or email ( See for specific details and hours.
  • The Blue Camel Café will be open until midnight throughout finals.
  • Courtesy of the Office of Administration, the 1941, 1962 and Alice Johnson rooms in Cro will be designated as 24-hour study spaces throughout finals.
  • Newly added: Neff Lab (Harris) and PC Classroom (Knowlton) will be open 24 hours during finals.


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