University Library shows renovations to community members

Walter Doerschuk

James Bracken still admires the makeover the Kent State Library has undergone since last year.

“I think it’s miraculous,” said Bracken, dean of University Libraries. “Universities don’t move this fast. It’s been a tremendous commitment on the part of the university architect and a tremendous commitment on various players.”

Bracken was one of the hosts of “Business After Hours” on Thursday, an event that invited members of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce and community members to see the renovations in the library.

One of the reasons the library hosted the event was to help connect the university and the city of Kent.

“The town is just as important to the college as the college is just as important to the town,” Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said.

Last fall, the Math Emporium opened on the second floor with computers and new furniture.

The fourth floor was renovated to a large quiet study area for students and has plenty of additional cozy couches and chairs.

Bracken told the group that around this time last year, the second floor was full of “dust bunnies” and empty bookshelves, and the fourth floor had all of the books that are now on the fifth floor. He said many of those who were in attendance on Thursday attended “Holy Thursday” last year and saw the dust and vacant bookshelves.

“We have come a long way,” Bracken said.

Several library staff members kicked off Thursday’s event as they led small groups on tours of the new renovations.

The entire group eventually congregated on the fourth floor to meet and munch on refreshments.

Several Kent State graduates were in attendance including Jeff Langstaff, who works with the juvenile bureau of the Kent Police Department. Langstaff said he graduated in 1974 and his grandmother was attending Kent State in 1917 or 1918 when only four or five buildings on campus.

Langstaff and many of the other attendees were excited about the changes.

“This surpasses everything I could have ever imagined,” said Terri McGuckin of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County.

“It’s a huge difference,” Fiala said. “It’s night and day. It’s a very nice atmosphere for kids to study.”

The library will most likely be undergoing more renovations this summer as it is looking to add restrooms to the first floor.

Other than the restrooms, Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said she wasn’t sure if any additional renovations are scheduled for down the road.

“I don’t know what they have planned,” she said, “but every time I come in here I am impressed with the evolution of it.”

Contact Walter Doerschuk at wdo[email protected].