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Design Firm Chosen for New Library
Reba Leiding

With the selection of an architectural firm, planning for the new library building to be located on James Madison University's East Campus is under way. The building's completion is targeted for 2008, JMU's centennial year.

The Design Collective of Baltimore, Maryland, has been chosen to design the new library building planned for the Skyline Area of James Madison University’s East Campus. The firm is responsible for numerous higher education buildings including the Health and Human Services Library at University of Maryland, and the new library at Morgan State University, both in Baltimore.

JMU's library building project is funded through the bond referendum for capital improvements in higher education approved by Virginia voters in 2002.

Members of library administration and Facilities Management are currently working with Design Collective architects in the project's programming phase to determine what services and programs will be housed in the new building, and how to effectively configure those spaces. Preliminary schematic designs and scale models will be unveiled during Spring Semester. Students, faculty and other constituents of the library will be engaged in the planning process. Construction is slated to begin in 2006.

While the vision for the new library is still coalescing, some general ideas about the building’s purpose have emerged:

  • Collections housed in the library will support science and technology curricula.
  • The building will emphasize study spaces for individuals and small groups.  
  • The building will likely include an "Information Commons," which will include spaces where students and faculty can collaboratively use information resources.

Plans also call for a section of the building that will be open on a 24-hour basis with study seating, a computer lab, and a coffee bar.

The library will also include space for instructional technology services and will house a teaching excellence center for faculty. Karen Santos, Professor of Education has been working with the Provost for the past five years of faculty development initiatives. "The future plan for a carefully designed site in the new library to enhance this work is very exciting," Professor Santos said. "Center programs will support faculty in their teaching, scholarship, and service, and promote faculty innovation."

The proposed facility will contain about 106,000 square feet, approximately the size of Carrier Library. Science and technology collections, which make up about 20 percent of the Library’s total collection, will be moved from Carrier, opening up more study space and room for growth in the Humanities and Social Sciences collections housed there.

Ralph Alberico, Dean of Libraries and Educational Technologies, said the plan for a new library is a sign of an emphasis on academic excellence at JMU and a recognition that learning also happens outside the classroom. "Our mission is to connect students and faculty to ideas. We are thrilled at the prospect of a new library. Not only will the new building enable us to expand space for collections and study, it will allow us to develop new sorts of environments to promote learning, interaction and discovery. The library will continue to play a critical role in support the JMU mission of preparing educated and enlightened citizens. It is especially exciting that the opening of the new library will coincide with the celebration of the James Madison University centennial."

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