FEBRUARY 6, 2023 — The UTSA John Peace Library’s (JPL) third floor has re-opened as a brighter, more modernized space with new furniture, new study rooms and collaborative spaces. Connected to the iconic Sombrilla, the JPL is often referred to as the “heart of the campus” and is one of the university’s five original buildings.
The project is part of a multi-phased initiative to reimagine and transform JPL spaces and their furnishings to meet the learning needs of 21st century students.
“Our goal is for the JPL to be a 21st century library where students can come in with an assignment or a research question and leave with a product or knowledge,” said Dean Hendrix, UTSA vice provost and university librarian. “To achieve this, students have told us that our space needs to be more than just a place to access textbooks, computers or online sources. They want the library to be a multifaceted place where they can collect, analyze and synthesize information for their assignments, study for their exams and collaborate with their peers.”
Feedback from surveys and focus groups on library spaces indicated that students felt that the JPL was too crowded, and the third floor was too dark. The floor has been dominated for years by library stacks of books whose circulation, like at many other academic libraries, has declined in favor of the millions of online research materials available to users any time of day through a convenient self-service model.
UTSA began the first phase of JPL renovations on the third floor in 2020. Work included replacing large concrete panels on the north and south portions of the building with floor-to-ceiling window panels. At the same time, library staff have been busy reviewing books and reconfiguring the space as a bright, collaborative, inspirational destination for discovery and research.
“During this renovation period,” Hendrix noted, “library staff reviewed books on the third floor using a broad range of criteria. They have taken great care to ensure the books in the stacks, many of them in the collection since the library opened, are the selections that best serve the research and teaching needs of our campus community.”
The UTSA Libraries manage collections according to State, UT System and institutional guidelines. Some of the books that are taken off the shelves will find new homes in other state libraries while others will be permanently preserved in the Internet Archive for access worldwide.
Libraries services remain central to student and faculty success. Some of the Libraries’ most highly used services include the Get It for Me delivery service in which staff will find books, online articles and e-documents at student and faculty request; Ask Me Anything, a chat reference service that allows students and faculty to talk to a live person, course reserves and librarian consultations for research and learning.
“Future phases of the project will seek to replace carpeting, furnishings and lighting, create more private study spaces and refresh library teaching spaces,” Hendrix said.
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