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Place with pizzazz

Place with pizzazz

Teri Rizvi October 02, 2019

As light streamed through the expansive second-floor windows during the rededication and blessing of Roesch Library, University of Dayton President Eric F. Spina marveled at the transformation.

“This is a place with real pizzazz,” he said. “This is not your father’s or mother’s library. It’s a library for our times — bright, colorful, open, inviting.”

The two-year, $10.7 million modernization — dubbed Roesch Refresh — drew 150 curious faculty, staff and students to the Sept. 27 celebration. Dean of University Libraries Kathy Webb and her staff invited input from the campus community during every step of the renovation and even organized a “furniture petting zoo” that allowed students to rate the comfort of tables and chairs before they were purchased.

How dramatic is the modernization of the first and second floors? For openers, the floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with row after row of bound journals and periodicals are gone. Those scholarly resources can be accessed electronically or elsewhere in the building.

students study in a renovated Roesch Library with open spaces and lots of windows and comfy chairs“Traditionalists who would only want to see libraries as sites of preservation for holdings and quiet contemplation — and there is still much square footage in Roesch Library devoted to just such valuable purposes — may be dismayed to see so much human interaction and creative activity in the absence of many bound, print volumes,” noted Paul Benson, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, in his remarks.

 The library’s space has been totally re-imagined, with an eye toward “opening doors, activating scholarship and inspiring creativity,” Webb said.

The first floor includes an artist’s gallery;  “Huddle Rooms” for groups to team on projects; a “Refuel Zone” with snacks and a microwave; and a distinctly Marianist feature — a  “Dialogue Zone.”

“It’s a place for people to ‘be at the table’ engaging in challenging conversations,” Spina told the crowd. “This is so needed during our times as we cultivate respect for diversity of thought and find common ground on issues.”

The spacious second floor features the “Collab,” a classroom and event space; “Concourse D,” a project development studio, the brainchild of students working with the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation; a “Story Studio” for recording and editing audio and videos; a “Scholars Common” for research conversations, seminars and workshops with faculty and doctoral students; and a large flexible gathering space.

Both floors include “living rooms” with comfortable furniture and decorative ceiling lights.

Will this renovation of the 50-year-old Roesch Library stand the test of time? The library’s staff is inviting ideas and contributions for a time capsule that will be placed in the first-floor wall. What best represents UD and the world in 2019? Can it fit in a shoebox? Post your ideas on Padlet by Nov. 9.

Perhaps the time capsule will include quotes from famous people — from inventor Albert Einstein, literary theorist Susan Sontag and even a comedian — that Benson shared at the rededication ceremony.

“The incisive comedian Paula Poundstone has much wisdom to offer,” observed Benson, “when she says, ‘The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community.’”