Welcome to UND and the UND Libraries!
As many of you know, the medical and law schools have separate libraries, reporting to their respective deans. Both moved into renovated or new spaces in recent years. Then it was the Chester Fritz Library's turn! From 2016-18, we undertook several small renovations, including a mini-renovation of the Reference area, several maintenance items (a new chiller tower, upgrades to our HVAC system, replacement of pipes under the Library), and the opening of our One Button Studio, which allows students and faculty to create videos without the need for a strong technological background.
In November 2018, we embarked on the biggest renovation of the Library since the building addition in 1981. This was a huge project: we are the largest library in North Dakota, at the state’s flagship research institution. One of the earliest milestones was University IT’s move into the Library, in July 2019. There were a few delays due to supply-chain issues during the COVID pandemic, but as of April 2021, the main renovations have been officially completed!
We have moved to a new, exciting, user-focused service model – an Academic One Stop, with partners from across campus focused on providing complementary services to meet the teaching, learning, and research needs of our faculty, students, and staff and the broader community. Our partners in these initiatives include University IT, which moved into the 1st floor of the Library in July 2019; the Writing Center, which moved into newly renovated 3rd floor space in August 2020; High Performance Computing in the form of our new Artificial Intelligence/ Virtual Reality (AI/VR) Lab suite on the 3rd floor; University Art Collections, which is beginning to utilize new display spaces and digital options; and more. We also created a Knowledge Commons at the top of the new grand staircase, where users can access multiple services, including our Peer Research Consultants, and where other services from across campus will be available on a “pop up” basis. For example, Student Services, Career Services, TTaDA, and the Writing Center partnered with us to design the Learning Commons, and may offer services as needed. In July 2021, Orientation was held in the Library, with great success. You can also try 3D printing services (available via University IT) or 3D scanning (available via the AI/VR Lab).
We also have upgraded events space, in Conference Room 406; ask us about hosting campus meetings or events. In addition to our renovated partner areas and new Knowledge Commons, we have 7 new group study rooms, equipped with technology; new open study spaces; compact shelving to hold lower-use but still important collections; new instruction rooms; and new furniture and technology options throughout the Library. Our upgraded Reading Room (the “Fish Bowl”) looks glorious, and features a beautiful fireplace under the UND seal, as well as booths, benches, and mixed seating for studying, and major improvements to electrical capacity and wifi. There is also a refreshment and lounge area on the 1st floor, where you can grab coffee, a sandwich or salad, or a snack, and enjoy them in comfortable seating. We have also made major accessibility improvements to aid patrons with mobility concerns – new elevators, better wheelchair access, and more – and we are upgrading our directories and floor plans to be more user-friendly for patrons with visual impairments, color blindness, and more.
As for the Library’s exterior, you may notice that we have added a South Tower and upgraded the quad-facing entrance, so that it is light-filled and offers comfortable seating. To the front yard, off University Ave., we have added exterior benches, improved lighting, rejuvenated landscaping, and a highly visible sign.
Beyond physical spaces, we have made huge forays into digital spaces. The Library has worked with faculty, students, and staff on the Open Educational Resources Working Group. Thus far, our OER initiatives have saved students $11 million in textbook costs, in just 5 years! We have also built the UND Scholarly Commons, an institutional repository holding text, images, journal articles, research data files, a complete digital inventory of the UND Art Collections, copies of UND-created Open Educational Resources, and much, much more.
Want to learn more? Come to our Grand (Re)Opening, on October 22, from 3-5 p.m. All are welcome! We invite you to come view our evolving spaces and services – or to suggest new innovations!