Library Renovation Keys Siebens Forum Phase II Construction

The Center of Academic Excellence and BVU’s Information Technology Department will move to the current library to create a new hub for teaching, learning and innovation.

The Buena Vista University Board of Trustees has approved a $4.3 million Phase II remodeling effort to dramatically update and repurpose areas within Ballou Library, opening it for additional uses and widespread services offered by University personnel.

The Center of Academic Excellence and BVU’s Information Technology (IT) Department will move to the current library to create a new hub for teaching, learning and innovation. The new space will increase in size and boast of more modern amenities, allowing each of the departments to better serve the growing and changing needs of an expanding student body, faculty, and staff; goals reflected in the University’s strategic plan.

“We are thrilled and grateful to be able to extend this important next step in our effort to make a truly state-of-the-art academic facility even that much stronger for everyone.” 

Joshua Merchant

Donations totaling $1.5 million set this important project in motion. The work, which begins immediately following the May 2020 Commencement ceremony, is an extension of the renovation of the Harold Walter Siebens School of Business/Siebens Forum, which formally opened to great fanfare in January, and continued with the opening of the new South Forum Lawn Patio on Homecoming weekend.

“The feedback we have received from students, staff, faculty, alumni, community members, and guests in the months following the opening of the renovated Siebens Forum has been so incredibly positive,” says BVU President Joshua Merchant. “We are thrilled and grateful to be able to extend this important next step in our effort to make a truly state-of-the-art academic facility even that much stronger for everyone.” 

“We are so excited about what Phase II will accomplish for our students and the experience they’ll have in better utilizing their spaces in the library and at the Center for Academic Excellence,” adds Suzette Radke, vice president for finance and administration at BVU. “Creating a modern space and experience for our students is our number one priority.”

The first floor of the library will transition into space for the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) and the IT Department. Currently, those departments are adjacent to one another west of the library main entrance in Siebens Forum.

“We have students studying and being tutored in the CAE in a spill-over hallway area, which isn’t ideal,” Radke says. “The CAE, which continues to serve a growing number of students, will now receive dedicated space with state-of-the-art technology on the library’s first floor.”

The CAE will also have a room dedicated to testing, allowing BVU education majors, for example, to remain on campus for the Praxis exams. Two sensory rooms will be added in the CAE space for students on the autism spectrum.

“The CAE is such a key entity on campus for our students,” Radke says. “The addition of space and a centralized, accessible location within the library is only going to make it stronger.”

The IT Department will also have an area on the first floor in the library. Additionally, IT professionals will have access to new classroom space within the facility, allowing them to guide faculty on the latest offerings in technology to enhance classroom and lab instruction.

“If a faculty member wants to try out something new in the way of technology, doing so in the IT area makes perfect sense,” Radke says.

Study rooms on the library’s lower level will be renovated and will feature modern technological tools, allowing for alternative setups for individual sessions or group projects and meetings. Those areas remain in high demand, especially during evening hours, as students conduct meetings, research discussions, and more.

The bulk of the library’s book collection will be moved to the second floor, which will feature a reading area. BVU’s extensive archives collection will remain on the second floor, as will study carols for students.

The library’s top level is set to feature a new space in the Mack, Mack, and Mack Boardroom, which is designated to host meetings of the BVU Board of Trustees, among others. The handicap-accessible room, which can serve 30-40 people, is close to the Office of the President and remains accessible to those visiting or working in the Office of University Development and Alumni Engagement.

The boardroom will be easily modified to serve a variety of meetings and events for a number of visitors to campus. BVU’s Common Grounds coffee shop will also receive updates in Forum Phase II, which is expected to be complete by the start of the 2020-21 academic year. 
 

Library before and after
Left: near the library entrance in 2019. Right: a rendering of the same space after the planned construction.

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