Pacific hopes remodeled Tran Library meets needs
The Tim and Cathy Tran Library sits near the heart of Pacific University's wooded campus in Forest Grove, just north of Marsh Hall and just south of the Washburne University Center.
Isaac Gilman, dean of university libraries, wants to make sure it is at the heart of Pacific's vocation as well, addressing the needs of its student population and complementing its academic programming in a way that only a library can do.
Library staff at Pacific's Forest Grove campus are preparing for the start of a planned two-phase remodeling project that will transform much of the Tran Library's second floor.
"The library is really becoming a hub," Gilman said. "It always has been, but I think even more so — a hub for academic support for students."
Walking through the library space, Gilman pointed out areas that will be remodeled as part of the first phase: a section of the library labeled "Music Collection," around which glass walls will be erected as it becomes a "makerspace," a photography mini-studio and a seminar room, and the library's east wing, from which all the bookshelves will be removed to make way as the space is divided into study rooms.
"It's something that students have requested for, really, since this building opened," Gilman said.
It's a priority Gilman, who has worked at Pacific for about 12 years, said he shares.
"I've wanted to add more study rooms for a long time," he remarked.
The study rooms will vary in size, Gilman said, and at least one will also be outfitted as a lactation room for nursing mothers. That's something the library does not have right now, and it's an amenity Gilman said is important to some of Pacific's "non-traditional" students, such as those who are older than typical undergraduates and have to juggle school with family obligations or work.
As for the shelving units from the east wing, area residents might see them turn up a few miles to the east. Gilman said Pacific intends to donate the bookshelves to the Cornelius Public Library, which is preparing to move into a much larger building now under construction along Adair Street.
Karen Hill, Cornelius' library director, said Pacific has been "very generous" in agreeing to donate the surplus shelves. They won't fill the library's entire needs, but Hill said Spacesaver Specialists Inc. in Tualatin is also contributing.
"Between the two of them, we will be able to save tens of thousands of dollars in shelving," Hill wrote in an email Monday, Aug. 6.
Gilman serves on Cornelius' library advisory board, giving him insight into that other library project as well. He said he is in favor of doing more outreach from the university libraries to both city libraries and libraries at local K-12 schools.
While the study rooms will be a significant addition to the Tran Library, the addition of the makerspace will be a more visible, dramatic change.
The makerspace will occupy the area now taken up by shelves of audio CDs, across the atrium from Pacific's tutoring center, which has moved to the Tran Library's second floor for the 2018-19 school year. Gilman said it will feature gadgets like a 3D printer, 3D scanner, laser cutter, milling machine and even book-binding equipment. Rooms will also be set aside as a "white box" for photography and a larger meeting room with a nice view of the campus.
"We're trying to make it a space that's going to be relevant and useful for students in as many disciplines as possible," Gilman said. "There are already some maker activities on campus. There are various 3D printers in physics and in art, and the art department also has a lot more of the kind of 'dirty' stuff — saws, and things that we wouldn't have here. So we see this as more, hopefully, a complementary space that will provide general access to all students, rather than some of these disciplinary or departmental spaces that are really only used now by students in that major department."
He added, "I think it really supports a move towards more applied and hands-on learning. … It will support that work across a number of disciplines too."
Construction on the approximately $1.6 million first phase of the project is tentatively slated to start in January, according to Gilman. However, he noted, there's plenty of advance work that needs to be done — some of which is already underway — including reorganizing materials, something Gilman referred to as "long-overdue maintenance," and moving around furniture and shelving units.
"It's been a huge project for the library staff," Gilman said.
University officials hope to have the remodeling work substantially completed before finals in April and graduation in May.
The second phase of the project will include creating a new "media center" in the library for both the displaced audio CDs and the library's collection of DVDs. Gilman doesn't have a lot of details on that second phase, including funding or when it will begin construction — the focus right now is the first phase, with the study rooms in the east wing and the addition of the makerspace.
The changes are part and parcel with other on-campus transformations in the works or envisioned by university officials.
An influx of students from now-shuttered Marylhurst University has prompted the university to renovate some of the space in its Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center. And earlier this year, an updated master plan for Pacific's campus in Forest Grove was approved by the city. Among other things, the new plan forecasts a growing undergraduate student population and identifies the addition of dormitory space as a major need.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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