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Z. Smith Reynolds Library renovations nearing completion


August 11, 2008

Dramatic renovations made to two large study spaces in Z. Smith Reynolds Library during the summer include staircases leading to new second-level seating areas, a Starbucks coffee shop and new meeting rooms.

Work began in May to renovate the 5,900-square-foot area at the front of the library.

The lower level of the space to the left of the front entrance will house a Starbucks coffee shop, expected to open by the end of September.  The large study space to the right of the entrance will be completed in late August.

"We want the library to be an attractive destination,” said Lynn Sutton, director of the library.  “Wake Forest’s strategic plan identifies the need for more gathering places on campus.  With these changes, we hope more faculty, students, staff and visitors will gather in the library to study, mingle and talk.”

Sutton sought input from students regarding what they would like to see in the library and many of those ideas are incorporated in the new spaces.  Tables and chairs and upholstered sofas and chairs will be scattered throughout both areas.

Electrical outlets have been added at several points along the floor to make it easier to plug in laptop computers.

The 23-foot ceilings in the two study spaces allowed for the construction of two mezzanines, which add another level of about 2,000 additional square feet.  The rooms will also benefit from more natural lighting coming through the existing large windows because of changes made to the landscaping at the front of the building.

In addition to the two main study rooms, the renovated space at the front of the library will include three new meeting rooms for small groups, a graduate student lounge and new bathrooms.  The meeting rooms will be equipped with SMARTBoard interactive white boards.  Access to the graduate student lounge will be restricted to graduate and professional students through the key card system.

"We punched through walls to create smaller seating areas,” said Jim Alty, associate vice president for facilities and campus services.  “The new configuration offers almost a dozen different-sized spaces with very different looks, lighting and furniture.”

A new entrance at the east side of the library (adjacent to Tribble courtyard) will lead to the Starbucks space.

Williard Ferm Architects in Raleigh did the design work for the library renovations.  Frank L. Blum Construction Company was the construction contractor for the project.

After talking with library directors across the country, Sutton decided it would be important to have a coffee shop in the renovated space.

"Coffee shops have become common in university libraries,” Sutton said.  “Instead of leaving the library for a study break, students can stay in the building and have more of their needs met.”  

Starbucks was selected as the coffee vendor for the library space in May.  The Starbucks will be operated by Aramark staff, under their contract to provide food and beverage services to the Wake Forest community.

Starbucks will be hiring student employees to assist in staffing the operation.  Operating hours will be Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Campus Grounds, the student-run campus coffeehouse started five years ago, will continue to operate in Taylor Residence Hall. 

Matthew Cullinan, vice president for administration, and Ken Zick, vice president for student life, agreed to provide a total of $10,000 to help support Campus Grounds during the 2008-2009 year.

"Campus Grounds is an important student endeavor,” Cullinan said.  “We would like to support it in a significant way.”

Additional funds may be provided in the future, but the goal is for the coffeehouse to be self-supporting, he said.  Campus Grounds turned a small profit during the 2006, 2007 and 2008 academic years.

The funds will be earmarked primarily for improvements to the space, such as building a stage to better accommodate performers and adding a television.   The funds will also help Campus Grounds with programming and marketing efforts.

"We hope that Campus Grounds will continue to provide an important social space on campus for many years to come,” Zick said.  The space occupied by Campus Grounds will remain common student space regardless of the future of the coffeehouse, he said.

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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