Chester Fritz to be renovated


Students walk by the Chester Fritz Library, which will be seeing renovations in the near future. Photo by Jackson Smith/The Dakota Student.

Over the last year, the Chester Fritz Library has seen a few changes, such as extended hours and some swapping of study carrels for more collaboration-friendly tables.

But there is a much greater plan for the library, and, according to Acting Director Julie Anderson, patrons can expect to see updating and remodeling on a larger scale as early as this academic year.

“What I’m in charge of here is to look at the revisioning, and we strongly feel that the programs and services that the university has to offer that we think are important for this research university should come first, and then any remodeling should come afterwards,” Anderson said. “We plan on working on the programming, services and everything else that will then dictate the space needs that may need to occur at the library.”

Anderson said UND is in the final stages of selecting an architectural firm that will facilitate the renovation process, which will include updating issues working groups around campus deem to be most important.

“We think there will be a need to organize the interior of the building,” Anderson said. “Students need more places to meet together, because the pedagogy that’s happening in higher ed, much of it is group assignments, active learning, and so we need to have more spaces here to accommodate that, especially at the end of the semester.”

UND set up numerous working groups in the Fall that have been given specific areas of focus regarding the library.

Each group has two students, either graduate or undergraduate, along with other faculty and staff members. Although these groups have been in place for a few months now, Anderson says UND still needs a lot more feedback before committing to any specific renovation plan.

“What has to happen first is we really need to involve the students, faculty and staff in focus groups, they’re called sherettes, we really have some deep conversations about what services and programming are desired, and so that’s going to take some time… the firm is going to be holding a number of focus groups,” Anderson said.

A recent Tuesday Two poll sent out by the UND Student Government, which had 753 respondents, asked students how often they visit the library, to which 35 percent of responders said “never,” 11.42 percent said “daily,” 22.97 percent said “once a week,” 19.65 percent said “once a month,” and 10.89 percent said “once a semester.” The poll gave students the option of leaving comments, and the most common phrase was “waste of space.” Several students went on to explain why, the majority of whom saying there should be more space for collaboration in place of the study carrels.

UND Student Body President Tanner Franklin says he is eager to see change in the library as well.

“I am really excited that we have finally been able to get to this step,” Franklin said. “Student input will be a huge piece to creating the plan in an effort to create a space that students truly desire.”

Anderson, who was sent the results of the poll by Franklin, said she is aware of students’ issues with the library and is working to make changes, but she also stressed that the remodel is not going to happen overnight.

“We anticipate because of the size of the building and the number of services that come out of the building, we can’t just relocate, so we anticipate a phase renovation, and we hope to start that as soon as possible,” Anderson said. “I would think that within the next academic year we could see some of at least phase one starting to happen.”

Anderson has a PhD in nursing but also has experience in budget/finance, development, marketing, enrollment management, and strategic planning, which is partly why she was chosen as the acting director. Since Wilber Stolt announced his retirement in January, Anderson has stayed in her position while Stolt continues research on special projects Provost Thomas DiLorenzo asked him to work on before leaving UND, which include collections, staffing and budget.

The last year has also seen changes in the management of the budget for the library, as some resources have been switched to strictly digital, but both Anderson and UND spokesman Peter Johnson say no cuts have been made to the library in the last decade.

“There’s actually never been a funding cut,” Anderson said. “It’s just the cost of the resources, and we’ve not lost any resources in the last 10 years, but each resource, which cost anywhere from $300,000 to $5,000, increases at a rate of 16 percent each year, and so I think it’s more of a case of the library outgrowing its budget.”

In this year’s State of the University Address, UND President Kelley said &7.8 million will be allocated to the Chester Fritz Library, but any further details have yet to be revealed.

“Stay tuned on that one,” Johnson said. “Think of that as a teaser.”

Marie Monson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].