A Unique Gem in the Future Carrier Library: The Grand Reading Room

Posted on: June 6, 2024

A reading room can stir powerful emotions—awe, inspiration, and calm can be found in this most iconic of library spaces. In the future Carrier Library, visitors to our new Grand Reading Room will discover a gorgeous, modern, and welcoming space.

View of west campus, Rose Library, and Massanutten Mountain with rays of setting sunshine piercing clouds, as viewed from the Grand Reading Room under construction.
Artist’s rendering of the Grand Reading Room.

“I think folks will love the feel of the room,” said Kelly Miller-Martin, Director of Facilities Operations for the Libraries. “The space will draw visitors in. It’ll be dramatic, yet inviting and cozy, with so much natural light. And it’ll have plenty of seating without feeling too crowded.”

Perched on the third floor in the addition to the building, the reading room will be a unique gem. It will offer breathtaking views, with large windows facing three directions. “I imagine people will love the unobstructed sightlines as they take in the beautiful mountain views to the east and west. They’ll also have the ability to see campus from a different perspective,” Miller-Martin offered. When seen from the outside at night, the reading room will be a jewel-like beacon of light, highlighting the heart of the library for those passing by.

Exterior rendering of future Carrier Library looking towards the Grace St. entrance in the evening, with many large windows lit from inside
Artist’s rendering of the Carrier Library expansion as viewed from Grace Street. The Grand Reading Room will be on the top floor.

With book-filled shelves, access to power outlets, and room for dozens to work at large study tables, the grand reading room will be a haven for quiet focus. The ceiling’s warm, wooden finish will frame the space beautifully, contributing to an inspiring and calming ambiance – a perfect spot for deep concentration.

The Grand Reading Room under construction as of June 2024.

While Carrier Library will have several reading rooms and open study areas, the grand reading room is designed to be a “showpiece,” according to Miller-Martin. Her favorite aspects of the space, “its openness and expansive size,” will make it a “prime destination when the building reopens.”

Architects collaborated closely with students, staff, faculty, and library representatives to plan the reading room. They worked to design the space according to the stated desires for natural light and books in a modern yet classic setting. The result will be a reading room that connects Dukes to the stories of the past, the beauty of JMU’s campus, and the surrounding Shenandoah Valley.

Looking from a high point of the Carrier Library construction site towards Massanutten Mountain with rays of  setting sunshine piercing clouds
Gorgeous view of west campus, Rose Library, and Massanutten Mountain from the Grand Reading Room under construction.

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