Alex Diaz’s first look at Love Library’s new learning commons came from a Snapchat.
Friends flooded his phone Monday with pictures and videos of a wide-open seating area, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and, most notably, a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Diaz, a senior social science major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, decided to see it for himself.
Nancy Busch, UNL’s dean of libraries, said Diaz’s experience isn’t isolated. Word spread quickly after the 7:30 a.m. opening, she said.
“By 9:30 you could feel there was a buzz,” Busch said. “We felt we had a hit on our hands.”
Monday, UNL officials publicly unveiled the $10 million renovation that transformed the first floor of Love Library North into the 30,000-square-foot Adele Hall Learning Commons.
Busch said she hopes students find something new and useful inside.
The 18 private study rooms, which can be reserved online, feature smart TVs and wall-to-wall whiteboards available for group projects or work sessions between professors and students. The renovated space features a variety of seating from tables to couches, most of which face or are near glass walls that surround the first floor. A Dunkin’ Donuts is located in the north part.
Diaz and his friend, UNL junior Herson Ponce, liked the doughnut shop mostly for the variety that it adds to the Nebraska Union food court on campus.
The learning commons is open 24/7, although after 1 a.m. students must swipe a campus ID card to enter.
The project was primarily funded through $7 million in private donations. An undisclosed gift was made through the family of Donald J. Hall, chairman of Hallmark Cards. The donation was in memory of his wife, Adele Hall, who graduated from UNL in 1953.
Busch said the project sprang from a desire to improve the purpose of the university’s public library.
“The project was about recapturing space,” Busch said. “And now it’s a different kind of space — a collaborative space.”
Busch said students and faculty needed digital workspaces and areas to collaborate, instead of a room stuffed with rows of books.
Many universities across the United States are making similar shifts as they provide for current students and try to attract prospective ones, too.
But there’s more to be done at UNL.
In the library’s southeast corner, work is ongoing on the Digital Learning Center.
Busch said the room is slated to have about 200 computers available for supplementary classwork and as a digital testing center. Work also is underway on a two-story glass box that serves as an entry between the outdoor plaza and the learning commons.
But Busch said it’s time to hand over the reins of the new space to the UNL community.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how they make it their own,” Busch said. “We want to see them make it functional.”