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Roadmap to the future of libraries facilities

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Flying in just ahead of Winter Storm Leon, architects David Moore and Meghan Clemmons of McMillan Pazdan Smith returned to the LSU Libraries on Monday, January 27, to continue work with Libraries staff and other stakeholders on creating a roadmap to the future for the Libraries’ facilities.  The goal is to create a long-term plan to address student and faculty needs for library facilities and services.

“The roadmap concept is important,” said interim dean Elaine Smyth.  “We can establish a master plan, but it will remain a remote, unattainable goal, unless we formulate a clear and practical path forward.  We must be able to phase renovations in chunks that are financially feasible and let us keep the Libraries open for business.”

Over four days in late December, Moore met with stakeholders – Libraries, ITS, Center for Academic Success, and CC’s Coffee Shop – to learn about their current workspace needs and their vision for the future.  While Moore listened and questioned, his colleagues Paul Schmid and Katie Johnson measured, photographed, and documented the offices, furnishings, and stacks in both Middleton and Hill Memorial libraries, covering 360,000+ square feet of space.  This monumental feat resulted in detailed plans of the Libraries’ facilities as they are currently configured.

Architect David Moore

With information in hand about workspace needs and working relationships, the next step was to metaphorically dump out all the contents of the Libraries and then put them back together in a way that makes better use of the space, supports efficient communication and workflows, and creates more and more inviting spaces for library users.  Working with Smyth and Mary Miles, Associate Director for Planning, Design, and Construction, Moore roughed out a general plan for reorganizing Middleton and Hill, in a final intensive work session on Dec. 19.

Returning on Jan. 27, Moore and Clemmons presented side-by-side plans, showing how the library facilities are currently configured and how they could be transformed to provide more and better spaces for library users and workers, alike.  The preliminary plans call for consolidating collections to take up a smaller footprint within Middleton, while expanding space available for study and research, presentation practice rooms, computer labs, group collaboration rooms, and flexible space adaptable for emerging technologies and modes of scholarship. studentscollaboratingSpaces for library staff would be consolidated and streamlined, and more space would be provided for student support services that are complementary to the Libraries’ mission.

Plans for Hill include consolidating staff workspaces, increasing space available for classes using Special Collections materials, and the eventual creation of a state-of-the-art high density storage facility adjacent to Hill that could house research collections from across campus.

In meetings and work sessions on Jan. 27, Moore and Clemmons gathered feedback and resketched and revised the plans in response.  They also met with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Taylor Parks, Vice President of the Student Government Association, and two of her colleagues in SGA.

What’s next?  “We need much more input from students and faculty,” said Smyth.  “We’ll be calling on individuals and groups to give us their ideas over the next six weeks.”  Meanwhile, Moore and his colleagues will update plans to include the changes suggested during January’s meetings and send them back to LSU for additional comment.   “It’s an iterative process,” said Moore.  The final report from McMillan Pazdan Smith, due in June, will include detailed plans of current facilities, thorough layouts for the future master plan, and a comprehensive roadmap for phasing renovations.

Sigrid Kelsey is the Director of Library Communications and Publications at the LSU Libraries.

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