Spaces and Places: Libraries Transform Study and Research Facilities One Space at a Time


In spite of increased access to digital resources, gate counts continue to rise as more people use library spaces to study, research, and collaborate. More than 1.2 million visitors came to the libraries last year, and we anticipate even greater numbers this year as students realize the value of the library experience.

The WSU Libraries are a hub of activity year-round, providing a supportive and encouraging environment for students, faculty, staff, and community members to collaborate with each other, access state-of-the-art equipment and technology, or simply read and enjoy a quiet moment.

We are more determined than ever to strengthen the libraries, particularly our aging interior spaces. Holland Library is over 65 years old, and the Owen Science and Engineering Library is almost 40. Even our youngest library, Terrell, is more than 20 years old and beginning to show signs of wear and tear. Changing these interiors presents many challenges that are often outside the scope of the libraries’ budget.

Starting with generous gifts from WSU Golden and Diamond Grads in 2004 and 2005, we began upgrading library classrooms to match the needs of students today. The WSU Libraries Council committed to this project wholeheartedly in 2013 and has been working to raise money and awareness. Council members also researched study spaces from other campuses and found a creative solution to renovating older buildings.

The modular furniture pictured on the right, called “pods,” is an example of these renovations. Complete with electrical outlets, whiteboards, and ergonomic chairs, these new additions have turned study areas into infinitely customizable spaces that students can easily rearrange—as isolated cubicles or large round tables for group discussions.

In addition to these improvements, WSU Libraries has begun renovating the old CD archives section in Terrell Library to create an even more adaptable space that not only gives students a place to study, but also accommodates meetings, events, and large group collaborations.

The Holland Library Dimensions Lab will be another valuable addition in the coming year. Outfitted with powerful Mac and Windows computers, each equipped with the most up-to-date software, expansive tables, and the same ergonomic chairs you’ll find in the modular pods, this private room provides a distraction-free environment for working on the more intensive computer-based projects students receive in engineering, physics, computer science, graphic design, and hundreds of other classes available on campus.

The success of the Campaign for Washington State University has shown us that the WSU Libraries have an amazing base of support from alumni and philanthropic donors across the nation. As we move forward, we hope to bring these kinds of upgrades to libraries across campus, providing adaptable and unique environments that meet the needs of the students using library spaces and resources. We hope you will continue to support us in our mission to provide the WSU community with the strongest library system possible.

—Story written by Rochelle Thompson, WSU Libraries development program coordinator