The Library Commons open house had the festive air of a street fair, as students donned sombreros and cowboy hats and posed for pictures at a makeshift photo booth.
Others perused information tables about student services Thursday while picking up sweets and playing games along the way.
The Commons open house gave John C. Hodges Library staff an opportunity to showcase the newly renovated space and the numerous amenities now under one roof to meet students’ needs.
“It’s always a great day when we can celebrate something that serves our students,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said.
The library, ranked 25th among public research libraries in the US, has constantly transformed to meet students’ expectations, he said.
The Commons “responds to needs for technology, flexible study hours, and spaces,” Cheek said.
Extensive renovations to Commons North and South began last summer to remove interior walls and open up the space, which encompasses the second floor of Hodges Library. The work was done under the direction of McCarty Holsaple McCarty, the original architects 25 years ago of the Hodges Library.
New glass-enclosed group study rooms that allow natural light were built around the Commons’ perimeter and entrances to both sections of the Commons were widened. Students have access to improved video and sound editing rooms and more recording and video studios.
Service desks also have been centralized, which means students will be able to check out all equipment—including laptops, scanners, video cameras, headphones and voice recorders—from one location in Commons South.
The Commons features a larger zone dedicated to tutoring and academic support. It includes the Student Success Center, the Writing Center, the Stat Lab and Math Tutorial Center.
The space is a collaboration between UT Libraries and the Office of Information Technology.
“I like that it’s more open and has a cleaner look,” said David Hayes, a sophomore majoring in logistics.
Of the centralized services, he said, “Everybody comes to the library anyway so it makes sense to have it all here.”