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UC Santa Barbara Opens Library to Students After $80 Million Renovation Project

After 2 years of construction, upgrade includes new three-story building, more space for student study and research

UC Santa Barbara’s library opened its doors to students Jan. 4 after two years of renovations.
UC Santa Barbara’s library opened its doors to students Jan. 4 after two years of renovations.  (UC Santa Barbara photo)

The grand entrance greeting visitors of the new UC Santa Barbara library is quite fitting, according to the university librarian, who says the doorway helps solidify the building’s place at the heart of the sprawling campus.

A paseo walkway now connects all parts of the UCSB Library to both east and west sides of campus. Students got their first look at the building formerly known as Davidson Library Monday with the start of the winter quarter.

About a third of the UCSB Library had been closed for more than two years, throughout a nearly $80-million renovation of the building, part of which was built in 1954 and went without upgrades for more than 30 years, University Librarian Denise Stephens said.

“It was a very intimate two and a half years,” she told Noozhawk. “The biggest change is our new grand entrance.”

Crews built an additional three-story building on the library’s north side to make way for more faculty and student collaboration spaces, and for special research collections that were previously housed elsewhere at UCSB or off campus.

The two-story building was renovated up to seismic standards — as well as the eight-story tower — to house the architecture and arts collection and more study and gathering spaces.

Stephens, who has been the librarian since 2011, said some 50 library staff were relocated to other corners of campus during the construction but have since been welcomed back to a well-lit, inviting space that boasts a 20-percent increase in overall study capacity.

Students will be greeted with new seating options, technologies and about 18 group study spaces that can be reserved ahead of time online.

“Students still see the library as integral to their individual academic success,” she said.

“The books are still very important, but they are only one of several ways of delivering information now. We are just so thrilled to finally, finally open our doors.”

Stephens said most new space will go to inspiring human activity, while the amount of room devoted to books and materials remained the same.

With construction complete, the previous entrance on the west side of the library facing Girvetz Hall is now closed. Three new entrances are available at Paseo West, Paseo East and Courtyard.

The Study Bean on the ocean side of the library is also closed, replaced by a sit-down Summit Café on the first floor of the mountain side near the courtyard entrance.

UCSB will host a library grand opening ceremony from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Paseo West Entrance. The event will feature remarks, ribbon-cutting, an open house and the music and dance performances of UCSB students.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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