University Libraries expansion now open

August 22, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries’ newest space, a four-story expansion and ground-floor renovation known as the Collaboration Commons and Central Atrium, opened Thursday afternoon (Aug. 22) in Pattee Library and Paterno Library on Penn State’s University Park campus. 

“Today marks the culmination of a 14-month, two-phase construction project, years of visioning and planning, and countless hours seeking and considering students’ input into the spaces and features they told us they most needed to support their productivity,” said Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications. 

“We hope we have delivered, perhaps even exceeded, their expectations for effective academic study space, and we look forward to seeing students, faculty, staff, alumni and our many visitors using these four expanded levels of Pattee Library as we continue to evolve those spaces for improved student instruction, as well as advanced research, and data and publishing consultation services tailored to graduate students and faculty.”

Open 24 hours, five days a week plus extended weekend hours whenever classes are in session, the new, modern spaces encompass a former outdoor courtyard and updated ground floor, southwest-facing entrance of the West Pattee Library portion of the building complex. The former ground floor News and Microforms Library — from which collections have been incorporated into the new Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Global News Center and social sciences collections, found respectively on the first and second floors of Paterno Library — has been opened up entirely to form the new Collaboration Commons. 

Its new exterior, leveled to offer a gentle sloping, accessible-friendly entrance into a larger ground-floor lobby, is known as the Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Garden Terrace. It features deep-inset stone bench and lounge furniture seating, low-level landscaping, expanded Wi-Fi and black lighting towers encasing USB and grounded power ports. These features provide outdoor areas for online productivity and recharging capabilities for powered devices, as well as expansive views from the inside. 

Past the ground-floor entrance doors, visitors are greeted with a staffed welcome desk, lounge seating and the first of four lush living walls, a popular feature in the existing Knowledge Commons. Immediately to the left is the entrance to the Collaboration Commons, which houses 16 enclosed group study rooms — which can be reserved at http://libraries.psu.edu/studyrooms — plus more than two dozen open groupings of moveable tables and chairs, all of which feature embedded or adjacent power ports. Lined along floor-to-ceiling windows, counter-height work spaces offer embedded power ports and new views of Sparks Building and West Halls. Near the middle is a large multipurpose room with configurable options ranging from a single 175-seat audience to dozens of small-group tables. The room itself has a collapsible rear glass wall and center dividers to further customize its use. 

Throughout, mobile dry-erase whiteboards complement nearly all of the Collaboration Commons’ fixed walls, which also feature whiteboards for group notations and brainstorming. For added convenience, coffee and snack vending machines are found to the left of the entrance, and in its northeastern-most corner is a dedicated lactation room.

Immediately to the right of the ground floor entrance is an eight-panel, 4K interactive touchscreen, a technology feature that can be reserved by students for showcasing their work. Beyond is the new two-level central atrium and its staircase leading to Pattee Library’s first floor. Under and adjacent to the staircase are three more living walls plus a variety of seating areas, a new entrance leading to the ground-floor Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information, and the entrance to the future Center for Immersive Experiences, coming later this fall. 

The central atrium’s staircase leads to a hallway connecting Pattee Library’s Knowledge Commons, Commons Services desk and Weltmann Lobby. The lobby’s existing elevator has been expanded to reach the third floor of the former courtyard, which now houses the Libraries’ Research Informatics and Publishing team. The second floor now centralizes the Library Learning Services department and provides a new glass staircase connecting the second and third floors of central Pattee Library.

Preparation for the construction project required the relocation of microfilm and microfiche collections to the social sciences collections on Paterno Library’s second floor; newspaper and news periodical collections and the library’s café to Paterno Library’s first floor; and the Libraries’ entire behind-the-scenes departments of acquisitions, cataloging and metadata teams to a nonpublic space on the ground floor of Paterno Library. These moves were completed in early 2018. 

“I’m immensely proud of our entire Libraries community in their collective support of this significant effort and its many stages, which involved moving several departments and collections for improved efficiency and our employees’ own opportunities for departmental and cross-disciplinary collaboration,” Dewey said. “This effort was a massive undertaking that has accomplished much more than new student collaboration spaces and improved access across the building. I believe it has set the stage for even more innovations in academic and research support than we could imagine today, and I am excited to consider the added potential our Libraries and University communities have available to them as a result of this transformation.”

Last Updated August 23, 2019