After undergoing major renovations, the first floor of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library (NPML) has a new look and greater study space for students. The upgrades include twelve new study rooms and state-of-the-art technology to enhance opportunities for collaboration and learning.
The 30-year-old facility is a popular spot for students and the surrounding community, but was in need of a modern redesign that utilized space differently to better meet the growing population on the St. Petersburg campus.
"It's blessed with natural light and beautiful design," said Kaya van Beynen, associate dean of the NPML who’s been involved with the project since planning began in 2018. "But the way students use the information and our staff work has changed. So, it was time to rethink the first floor to adapt to students' needs now and into the future."
The Student Technology Center, located on the first floor of the library, has been expanded and will now feature an updated digital makerspace and virtual reality studio where students can participate in robotics training and 3D printing.
"I can't wait to see the creativity that will happen through the Student Technology Center's makerspace and workshop offerings,” said Kristina Keogh, dean of the NPML who began her position in July. "Opportunities for play and experimentation within these settings can foster innovation and problem-solving skills that will help students in their coursework and careers."
A new gallery on the first floor will feature rotating art exhibitions from campus and community partners as well as highlights from the NPML Special Collections and University Archives.
"I am excited to ramp up programming and collaboration within the library gallery," Keogh said. "This will be an opportunity to expand partnerships with community arts and culture organizations within the City of St. Petersburg. It will also be a place to feature students' work among our rotating exhibitions."
The designers of the project also kept sustainability in mind. The green construction plan included materials with a high recycled content, a pre-fabricated system for individual study rooms to reduce waste, new lights with high-efficiency LED fixtures and paints and other materials that minimize the use of cleaning products and harsh chemicals that pollute indoor air quality. The library will also be part of a pilot project by Duke Energy that will install a submeter to monitor and collect real-time energy use data.
The $1.25 million renovation project was funded by a $1 million legacy gift from Josephine Hall, a regular attendee of campus events, and a $250,000 gift from alumna and longtime supporter Lynn Pippenger.
The redesign of NPML has been in the works for four years, but the project faced several delays due to the pandemic, supply chain issues and rising construction costs. Phase one finally got underway and was completed in 2022 with first-floor renovations. Phase two, slated to be complete in 2023, will include new furniture, a redesigned front entrance and a plant wall to reduce noise, create a peaceful environment and purify the air.