Conversations with the Associate Provost: Campbell Library Renovation

January 12, 2024
2nd floor Campbell Library, conceptual rendering
2nd floor Campbell Library, conceptual rendering

Rowan University Libraries are preparing to move from our long planning phase, including lots of community conversations and input, into the building phase for our exciting Campbell Library Renovation.

Beginning after Commencement 2024, this ambitious project will reinvigorate the library as a flexible, inclusive, and student-centric hub. We are thrilled to bring to Rowan a reimagined Campbell Library space, collections, and services that builds on what works well in Campbell now, and allows our staff to support the expanded needs of a growing Rowan into the future.

We sat down with Associate Provost, Robert Hilliker, for another conversation to get an inside scoop on what to expect for the future of the library.

Q: When do the Campbell Library renovations officially begin, and what is the expected timeline for completion?

A: The renovations at Campbell Library are set to begin this May after Commencement with preparations for the Dreamscape Learn virtual-reality classrooms, which are slated to open on the 4th floor of Campbell in Fall 2024. Work will begin on Campbell’s 1st through 3rd floors after that. We are aiming for completion in the Fall of 2025. That said, this is a major renovation, so things may take longer than anticipated, especially with some of the specialized equipment required for this project. We plan to provide regular updates on the progress to keep our community informed.

Q: What are some key features of the redesigned spaces, and how will they enhance the student experience?

A: This is one of the key improvements in post-renovation Campbell. There are going to be a variety of study spaces to support the different needs and preferences of our patrons. Individual quiet study is a priority, as we have heard loud and clear how crucial this is for so many of our students. There will be a variety of seating arrangement options and a full floor dedicated as quiet. We are also increasing the number of bookable group study rooms, and will offer improved wifi throughout the building while still retaining a number of desktop stations for those who prefer or need them. We recognize that our patrons have a variety of needs and preferences, and we are doing our best to balance them in this redesigned building, while we stay within our existing footprint. We are excited about some new dedicated spaces for sensory isolation in support of neurodiverse needs, open to all who would like to use them. And a focus on increasing natural light aims to promote student wellness. Our goal is to create spaces that contribute to the overall success and well-being of students.

Q: What additional services will be introduced as part of the renovation?

A: The renovation will bring an increase in campus partnerships, making the library a crucial part of the student resource hub that includes Savitz and the soon-to-be-complete updated Chamberlain Student Center. We imagine these three buildings, and all of the services they offer, working together to holistically support students. The Writing Center, which already lives in Campbell Library, will continue to have a home in the library, but in a refreshed space. Rowan Thrive will have new offices and support space in Campbell, post renovation as well. And, finally, the Information Resources & Technology’s Technology Assistance Center will move in. Students will be able to receive wellness help, laptop fixes, research support, and writing workshops all in the same location.

Q: That is great to hear about the focus on neurodiversity and wellness in the new spaces and services. How is the library addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in its collections?

A: The library is working through a thorough process to identify outdated and unused books in our collection as part of the renovation. We will be moving some collections to a new off-site space for easy retrieval, maintaining a key in-library collection for serendipitous browsing selected by our liaison librarians, and creating new browsable collections that reflect the diverse interests of our community, as I outlined previously. And, of course, our print books are just the tip of the iceberg of our collections, many of which take the form of electronic books, journals, and databases. Faculty are invited to connect with their liaison librarians about specific collection needs, as always. And we have begun a new outreach effort this year to gather input directly from students about our collections. Library collections are meant to reflect the reading needs of its community, and we are working hard to align our collections with the real and evolving Rowan community.

Q: There are some spaces that I love in the library. Will existing library spaces be affected by the renovations?

A: With new services entering Campbell, but the same overall building footprint, some spaces will inevitably have to shift. But the biggest change students will probably notice post-renovation is fewer stacks of print books and more spaces for them to study and interact. Not leaving the building will be some crucial spaces we know our community enjoys and relies on: University Archives & Special Collections (which will actually have some expansion), the Performing Arts Collection space, and the Digital Scholarship Center. We are also planning to retain two new spaces we have started to pilot this year: our new Family Study Space and the Campbell Library Recording Booth.

Q: How can students access library collections and services during the renovation period?

A: We are dedicated to ensuring that resources and assistance remain accessible to our community throughout the renovation. That will inevitably look and feel different for a time, while the library cannot support quiet study or some services during the construction. We are working on plans for ways to provide some support in Campbell, as well as elsewhere on campus with other partners like the Dean of Students’ Office, so that students can proceed with their work during the renovation. We are also working with our architects and the Facilities team to create a construction plan staged in a way to minimize the time when Campbell cannot be fully open, since we know how crucial this library is to our community.

Q: How can the Rowan community stay up-to-date on the progress or provide feedback?

A: Regular updates will be shared on the library's website. You can also stay connected with Campbell Library on Instagram and X (@rowanlibraries) for renovation news and everything we’re working on. The library is committed to keeping the community informed and engaged in this transformative experience. Folks are also always welcome to email me directly:

Thank you, Dr. Hilliker for your time! We look forward to more conversations on future projects at Campbell Library.