The second you step through the lobby and into the first floor, you are welcomed by the warm fall sun streaming through the large windows. The floor is clear of shelves, and chairs and desks dot the now-open space.
This is the new and improved Hamon Arts Library.
According to the director of Hamon Jolene de Verges, Hamon needed a change. It was running out of space.
“In Hamon Library, as in the other libraries here on campus, our book collection is not shrinking at all,” she said. “In the visual and performing arts, the patrons are not looking for ebooks as readily as they are in other disciplines like the sciences. In fact, historical perspective is important in humanities. The scholarship is sort of built on foundations on books that were published 50 years ago. We don’t weed as aggressively as other libraries where information might go out of date. Our information is always current.”
Over the summer, Hamon changed.
The books on the first floor moved down into the basement. The basement was also revamped with a compact shelving system. What makes this setup unique is that it is staggered, so there is a line of sight to the study rooms and the bathrooms.
The physical changes happened over the summer, but the whole process started a year ago with the librarians weeding out their collections. The renovation was supposed to start in spring 2019 but was halted by the flooding of the Jones Film Collection, which relocated to Hamon’s basement.
Not only did the library have the film collection in their basement but it also got a donation of 13,000 new books.
“We got a big book donation of 13,000 books from a very prominent scholar who passed away, and in his will, he left a library a very rich, deep, important collection of books,” de Verges said. “We had to bring those into the library. We had this going on at the same time we were demolishing. We had to use study rooms, that are highly in high demand by students, over the summer, so that we could store books.”
With these setbacks, the renovation was projected to not meet the deadline of opening before fall classes, but with the help of a specialized book-moving crew, it was completed on time.
This is not the first time Hamon has changed. Five years ago, the library would be unrecognizable to any current students. It had dark wood paneling, was dark, and had limited lighting. Or as de Verges succinctly puts it: funeral home-like.
The lobby had to change, and it did. They brightened the space and made it give patrons a good first impression of the library on the whole. “We wanted to make sure that we had plenty of comfortable, inviting spaces for students and faculty to use the library,” de Verges said.
The library is now better equipped to support the students, professors, and professionals.