Plans for the Academic Commons unfold in 2011
January 26, 2011
By: Kristal Griffith  

Plans are under way for DU’s Penrose Library to get a new look and feel. The project is called the Academic Commons and is intended to support the needs of library patrons in the 21st century.

“When Penrose Library was built in the early 1970s, library spaces were designed to support individual study,” says Nancy Allen, dean of Penrose Library. “Now, the needs of students and faculty are changing. We have a wonderful opportunity to anticipate the way library patrons of the future will interact with information, materials, books and each other.”

The project, which will cost approximately $32 million, will update the inside and outside of the current building. Updates will be designed to offer areas where students can work in groups, develop team projects and collaborate with faculty and other students. The library also will allow faculty to combine research based on books and journals with online scholarly communication and digitized primary resources.

Renovations are expected to begin in summer 2011 and take 14–18 months. Preparations for the work are already underway. It’s expected to take a few months to remove everything from the library, which should be ready for construction this summer. All books and collections will be moved to a climate-controlled off-site annex and most employees will be moved to Aspen Hall. Most of the transition will occur after Commencement.

During renovations, the Driscoll Ballroom and Gallery space will serve as the library’s public space. All materials will be picked up and returned there and visitors will be able to access academic services such as University Technology Services, the Writing Center, the Research Center and the Math Center.

The Quickcopy Center will move to the DU Bookstore.

“We will retrieve and deliver collections during construction, aiming for only an hour or two between request and delivery,” Allen says. “We play such a vital role for students and faculty at DU and will continue to provide all those services.”

In the renovated library, active collections will be housed on the lower level with low-use collections located off campus in a new collections annex.

“I often get asked if we’re getting rid of the books,” Allen says. “I can assure you that books and other materials will continue to be as valuable to our collection as our digital resources.”

While dates could change, the target date for re-opening the library is December 2012.

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