Howard University’s Undergraduate Library will be reopening as students return to campus for the Fall 2021 semester. Having been closed for renovation in 2013, the library will now be available with an entirely new infrastructure.
After 8 years of reconstruction, the Undergraduate Library has a variety of new resources to provide HU students and staff. Unlike the original Undergraduate Library which primarily consisted of books and quiet study, the renovated space will introduce a more lively environment.
“The new Undergraduate Library will have space for the STEM scholars, the art digital studio, the testing lab, and Moorland will be located on the lower level, some of Moorland will be located on the lower level not all,” said Carrie Hackney, the Interim Director of Howard University Libraries and Moorland Spingarn Research Center.
“It has a faculty lounge, there are classrooms, a coffee shop, a seminar room, and lots and lots of wonderful technology which is different from the old Undergraduate Library,” she continued.
Not only will the amenities appeal to a diverse group of students, but the layout of the library is also expected to be non-traditional.
“The new library is geared more towards collaborative student study,” said Errol Watkis, the Manager of Facilities and Events for Howard University Libraries and Moorland Spingarn Research Center.
“When you get in there you’ll see that there are very few of the traditional carrel spaces and there are more collaborative spaces,” he continued.
This renovated space especially encourages collaborative study as a result of Howard University’s curriculum.
The university’s curriculum has been increasingly geared towards collaborative study, problem solving, and team teaching. Students are often given group assignments and the library intends to accommodate team learning.
“There is seating where multiple students can sit and work and there are study rooms that students will be able to reserve online,” said Watkis.
“There will be students interacting with each other and it’ll be a more accommodating space in the way the lighting, seating, and chairs are set up,” he continued.
With all of the group friendly infrastructure, the Undergraduate Library may no longer be the best location for students who prefer to study in private, quiet environments.
“If the need is for more complete quiet space, students might find that the space in Founder’s might be better for that,” said Hackney.
In an effort to abide by COVID-19 protocols, students and staff are expected to navigate the library differently. COVID protocols such as mask wearing, hand sanitizer stations, and cleaning procedures will be implemented. When entering the space, students will go through an ID check process using the Bison Safe phone application. This app tracks the students’ COVID test results and has to be shown to a guard upon entry. The library will also digitize more of their resources in order to allow contactless access to information.
The Moorland Spingarn Research Center can also be expected to abide by COVID-19 protocols.
“As far as the Manuscript Division, we make appointments,” said Lela Sewell Williams, the Curator of Manuscripts at Moorland Spingarn Research Center.
“As far as the Library Division, that was more of an open space and I think that there will still be COVID protocols like masking, handwashing, cleansing, and things like that,” she continued.
The various resources provided at the new Undergraduate Library are anticipated to attract incoming students. Not only will students have the opportunity to make use of the academic amenities but they can also expect to find social benefits in the Undergraduate Library.
“I anticipate UGL being the new hotspot on campus. All HU classes will be seeing UGL for the first time and will be curious to see what all Howard has done to it” said Alana Thomas, the Howard University Student Association Vice President.
“I am excited because a lot of significant updates have been done creating another resource for students that hopefully relieves the overcrowding in Ilab. I know that this will be a great space to meet the new students!” she continued.
Some Howard students are already awaiting the use of the space after moving on campus.
“I’ll need to study away from my room to avoid distractions so I anticipate that I’ll use it regularly, especially because most of my classes are online,” said Essence Wiley, a sophomore journalism major at Howard University.
“I think the library will act as a way to keep everyone grounded and hopefully remember what we’re here for,” she continued.