Fondren Library gets second century makeover

The renovation of Fondren Library is expected to be completed in 2016. (REBECCA KEAY / The Daily Campus)


SMU parents stopped by Fondren Library Friday for an open house event to hear about the Central University Libraries’ renovation plans for the Second Century Campaign.

The renovation of Fondren Library has a projected cost of $19 million and an estimated completion date of 2016.

Plans for the renovation include the enhancement of group and individual study rooms, restoration of reading rooms, advancement of digital programs, preservation and expansion of print collections, new areas for public exhibits and a café.

The renovations will facilitate learning by providing students with optimized spaces for studying, researching and working on projects.

“There’s no question that you’re not just coming to the library to read books, you’re coming to work with your fellow students, to work on papers, to do group presentations and so on,” said Gillian McCombs, dean and director of the Central University Libraries.

Many of the ideas for renovations came from the Student Advisory Council, an open group of students who meet regularly with librarians to provide feedback, voice complaints and offer suggestions for improvements.

One renovation that McCombs hopes will benefit students is the interior redesign of the study rooms. The currently existing rooms are so popular that they must be booked weeks in advance, but the interior renovation will create space for additional rooms.

McCombs also emphasized the importance of the advancement of digital initiatives and technology upgrades at the library.

“Our role is actually to be a technology leader,” said McCombs. “Things that we try to do today you cannot do without technology. Not a thing happens in a library without technology.”

Nine-hundred thousand books in the SMU library collection are electronic. McCombs described the integration of books and technology in the library as a “hybrid experience” that offers digital and print resources all in one place.

Digitization of library collections makes documents viewable through an online digital library, which is accessible to students from computers and even smart phones. The Central University Libraries plan to continue expanding their online repository to make more information available to students.

Perhaps one of the most exciting renovations for students is the plan for a cafe, and the possibility of a Starbucks.

Carroll Barger, an SMU dad in town for Family Weekend, said that he liked the idea of the cafe allowing students to stay in the library when they are busy studying and need to eat. He said he was also interested to learn about how the library operates around the clock.

Carroll Barger’s wife, May Barger said it was exciting to hear about the new plans for the library and said she liked learning about the document digitization process.

2013 is being celebrated as Year of the Library and marks the 100th year since the founding of SMU’s first library. Today, SMU is home to six libraries and a total of about 4.2 million books.

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