Library Turning Page with Renovation


Normally, the Maryville University Library is quiet, even by library standards, over the summer. Not so this summer, as the Library is undergoing a serious facelift, its first major renovation since being constructed in 1988. “Every 20 years, we like to make changes,” joked Genie McKee, Ph.D., dean of the University Library.

McKee credits Acting Maryville President Brian Nedwek, Ph.D., with championing the importance of updating the University Library. “The Library faculty and staff have done a tremendous job of modernizing its reference materials and other resources and now it’s time that we give similar attention to the Library’s role in creating a vibrant learning environment at Maryville,” Nedwek said

The Library will celebrate its new look with an open house from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., August 27, which will include a ribbon cutting with new University President Mark Lombardi, Ph.D. McKee noted that Pat Apel, Maryville’s physical plant director, and his staff, have been a tremendous help in selecting new furniture and other fixtures, and in moving existing furniture in preparation for the renovations. All work should be completed by the beginning of the fall semester, McKee said.

She noted today’s college student has grown accustomed to bookstores like Borders, which offer both comfortable accouterments and functional work spaces. The centerpiece of the University Library’s renovation will be the transformation of the first floor into an Information Commons area, which will provide students and Library faculty and staff with the latest in technological access. It also will enable students to collaborate with each other, and with Library staff, on conducting research for class projects, McKee said.

McKee and Nedwek were among the University administrators and faculty members who met as a committee over the past year to study the issue of Library renovations. Other committee members were Mary Ellen Finch, Ph.D., interim vice president for academic affairs; Larry Hays, Ph.D., vice president for administration and finance; Julie Bergfeld, director of academic computing and instructional technology; and Jesse Kavadlo, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and director of the University’s Writing Center.

Early on, the group met with an architect and interior designer from the St. Louis architectural firm of Bond Wolfe to review preliminary renovation plans. The architect, Susan Pruchnicki, and the designer, Jenny Reed, along with McKee, conducted focus groups with faculty, staff and students during the fall semester to learn what improvements they would like to see in the Library.
“We want to make the Library more of a center for learning with faculty, staff and students working in a collaborative and technologically rich environment,” McKee said.

The Information Commons will include 13 chairs with tablet arms for laptops, 74 task chairs, 42 individual workstations for desktop computers (up from 28 workstations currently) and more electrical outlets for laptop use.

Also, the number of group study areas in the Library will increase from four to nine, with three of these areas having a computer for group use. The Library’s aesthetics also will receive an upgrade as three lounge areas with love seats and lounge chairs will be added.

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies.

Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.

In the photo: Genie McKee, Ph.D., dean of the Maryville University Library, discusses Library renovations with Gene LaVigne, sales representative for Chester Harvey, the company from where the Library purchased its new furniture.