Monday, August 31, 2015

UTSA John Peace Library five-year renovation project is completed

John Peace Library

The card catalog room of 1979 has transformed into today's Laptop Lounge in the UTSA John Peace Library. (Photos courtesy of UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
>> View a photo gallery of the UTSA John Peace Library: Then and Now

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(June 12, 2014) -- The library that represents the intellectual heart of the UTSA Main Campus has come to the end of an extensive renovation process that began in 2009. Built in 1975, the John Peace Library (JPL) has been updated to reflect learning in the digital age.

"A top-tier university requires a top-tier library," said Krisellen Maloney, dean of UTSA Libraries. "The renovations were planned from the start with students in mind -- to equip them with the right spaces and services to support their academic success."

As one of the original buildings on the UTSA campus, JPL first opened with 350,000 volumes on its shelves and space to accommodate approximately 1,300 students. As the university evolved and expanded over time, it became clear that JPL no longer served the technological and study space needs of the modern student.

Renovation discussions began in 2006, when an analysis done by UTSA Facilities noted JPL's inadequate lighting and a "dreary atmosphere," resulting in an unappealing study destination for students.

Fast-forward eight years, and JPL has been significantly transformed. Highlights of the five-year renovation project include:

  • Integration of the Writing Center and the tutoring and supplemental instruction units of the Tomás Rivera Center for Student Success, creating a focal point for student learning and engagement.
  • GroupSpot, a state-of-the-art digital classroom and study space that facilitates collaboration through small group tables with shared displays.
  • New information desk service points on JPL's 1st and 4th floors, with library services now available on all four floors of the building.
  • A central Information Commons for computing, collaboration and research. All told 347 computers have been added to JPL over the course of the last 5 years.
  • Quiet Study areas for students seeking a sanctuary where they can focus on writing or reading.
  • Relocation and expansion of Special Collections, including climate-controlled storage and a handsomely furnished reading room for researching rare materials.
  • The addition of 29 group study rooms, including some dedicated for graduate student use.
  • A 125 percent increase in the number of study seats throughout the library, for a grand total of 2,267.
  • A new Faculty Center, which includes a conference room, five breakout rooms, a digital studio and a casual seating area for informal collaborations.
  • The Assembly Room, a venue seating up to 120 people intended for major academic events drawing audiences from across the university and local community.

The renovations have significantly impacted student use of the library, with more than 50,000 students walking through its gates during the busiest weeks of the semester.

"The library has positively impacted my grades by allowing me to study more," said Jared Cruz-Aedo, a junior studying communications. "I can't study well in the dorms so I go to the library and study in the quiet zones -- where I'm able to get a lot done there because I can focus."

The UTSA Libraries include the John Peace Library on the Main Campus, the Downtown Campus Library, and the Applied Engineering and Technology Library – recognized by the New York Times and USA Today as the nation's first bookless library on a university campus. Reading rooms for the university's Special Collections are at the John Peace Library and the Institute of Texan Cultures on the HemisFair Park campus.

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Did You Know?

UTSA makes the grade with a strong core curriculum

UTSA prides itself on giving students a well-rounded education. Combining a top-tier academic program with opportunities for personal growth prepares students to compete in a global economy. And that's not all. They learn to be informed and engaged citizens as well. At the heart of that academic program is an award-winning core curriculum.

For four consecutive years, UTSA has received an A-rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for the caliber of its core curriculum. According to ACTA, UTSA requires its students to take six of the seven courses deemed "crucial" to a well-rounded education: composition, literature, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science. Only a handful of other institutions in the U.S. are giving students these tools, which are needed to succeed in careers and the community.

Did you know? UTSA is one of only three Texas institutions and 23 in the United States to receive the highest rating for its core curriculum in the 2014-2015 edition of the ACTA's "What Will They Learn?" report.

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