Brooks Library goes through renovations


Mira Cummings

Furniture from the original Library design prepares to be moved out as new items come in.

Kejuan Coleman, Staff Reporter

As CWU students prepare to wrap up the last few weeks of fall quarter and they begin to utilize the James E. Brooks Library more and more, the library looks like the Seattle 5 p.m. traffic jam there is nowhere to sit and nowhere to stand. However, the library is currently under renovations throughout the building, and most of the new features will be on the second floor.

The renovations of the second-floor common area and the Fishbowl are coordinated by Ginny Blackson, who has been the managing associate dean of the Brooks Library and head of collections of expenses for the last seven years.

CWU student enrollment has been increasing each year. The building was built in the 1970s to hold 1 million volumes and 7 thousand students, but this year the library has 1.5 million volumes and over 11 thousand students.

“We decided to make the Fishbowl more of a group study space. We moved some of the collaborative computer stations up to the Fishbowl so that people can have more access to electrical systems,” Blackson said.

The Fishbowl is a group study room where CWU students can do schoolwork with groups, but don’t have to worry about being quiet. The Fishbowl, along with the second floor, is the most utilized space in the library.

“The renovation of the Fishbowl feels like it’s taking a while. It is too packed because of all the new students,” Fernanda Pena, a second year clinical physiology major at CWU, said.

The new common area is located on the second floor right outside of the Fishbowl which is where bound periodicals used to be, but they have been moved downstairs to the first floor.

Tables and study corners have been added to the second floor of the library in preparation for the new commons.

According to Blackson, the common area and Fishbowl both have a maximum capacity of about 200 students, and are designed to be student study spaces with tables that sit about nine students per table.

“We wanted to provide an event space, so everything is on wheels, and everything doesn’t nest in one space allowing for more students in the common area,” Blackson said.

The athletic department was invited to use the library as a new location after losing the primary testing center because of the new dorms and student recreational field being built. The athletes mainly used the facility for their study hall hours between classes and practices.

“After spending countless amounts of hours in the library I’m happy to see our tuition getting put into use. I know that we have a $10 fee each quarter and now I can see my money is being used properly,” Simon Perrin, a third year paramedicine major said.

The student tech fee committee assisted with the second-floor common area renovations in purchasing four seven-foot wide ActivPanel Promethean boards. These panels benefit students by offering an interactive display that provides an experience like using a tablet, and are used to collaborate with ease. Decorative sound panels will be installed throughout the building which will help reduce the noise.

The renovations were funded by the provost strategic investments. The provost investment is where departments are invited to make proposals for student engagement and student retention.

After all of the renovations are finished the total cost is going to be about $400,000 with purchases like bookshelves, new chairs, new tables and new flooring. If the Brooks Library were to add extensions to the building it would cost about  $9 million at minimum, would close most of the building and not allow students to have a reliable place to study.

“One thing I discovered during the renovation was the collection of books from the first collection of CWU in the 1800s. We will be putting them up for display so that students can see the rich history of CWU,” Blackson said.