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.