Library renovation underway

UND’s Chester Fritz Library will continue to be renovated over the next several years. Photo by Nick Nelson/The Dakota Student 

The Chester Fritz library is currently experiencing its first major renovation in 35 years. 

Work is being done on the west side of the second floor to improve the aesthetic feel of the quickly aging building. This includes a new paint job, new furniture and an entirely new layout. This $60,000 project is a part of the UND administration’s master plan for the library.

“The library needs to become a more active place,” said Sally Dockter, the Assistant Director & Head of Public Services Chester Fritz Library. “We’ve spent so much time and effort filling the library with books, there’s hardly room for student anymore. We’d like to change that.”

Dockter spoke on the state of the library in an interview with the Dakota Student, highlighting that the East side of the library was built in 1961, and the west side was built in 1981. Both of these areas are largely composed of either the original “ratty old furniture,” according to Dockter or refurbished furniture from the other departments around campus.

Dockter even mentioned that the building is so outdated that it was becoming a safety hazard, highlighting an incident where a student broke their ankle in the library due to the outdated furniture.

This need is hopefully being met by the addition of furniture from several local vendors. These vendors include Norby’s, Gaffeney’s and Business Insider.

These vendors were chosen through the collaborative effort of the two firms that have been hired to help with the renovation: Icon, which is another local business, and Stantec, which is a consulting firm based out of Michigan.

These firms have provided the students with several furniture options, which may be found in the main area of the library. The library hopes that students will test out the furniture and provide feedback as to which pieces they enjoyed the most.

The library seeks to gather this feedback through written surveys which may be found in the same area as the furniture. The library is incentivising student involvement in this process by giving out three $10 gift cards in a raffle of those who filled out surveys.

There are dozens of furnishing options which have been made available for testing, which have been selected based off of surveys and open forums carried out by the CFL’s master planning workshops.  These workshops were carried out throughout this last winter and consisted of open forums and focus groups. They found that the three most sought after qualities in furnishings were electrical outlet accessibility, movability, and comfort.

“We have been in early discussions on research data management and working with digital humanities groups on campus, and are planning for the creation of a robust institutional repository,” Stephanie Walker, the Dean of Libraries & Information Resources, said in a press release, “Together with the Office of the Provost, we are also working on a pilot Open Textbooks initiative. Please keep your eye on our website for updates!”

The Open Textbooks Initiative, mentioned above, is a single source for faculty to find high quality, openly licensed textbooks run under the mantra of improving access, affordability and academic success through the use of open source textbooks.

Textbooks are not the only point of contention when it comes to accessibility, Dockter said. She made it a point that the library plans to focus on the digitization of many texts and magazines, and that a print collection of materials with limited shelf life is no longer a priority for the library. They want to free up space which can become elements of the library’s newly envisioned functionality.

Some of the principles guiding this new project include: balance, becoming the heart of campus, advancing collections, improving access to knowledge support services, becoming technology-immersive, blending learning and social environments and operating efficiently.

Dockter mentioned that fundraising will be a vital part of making this project a success, considering the scale and desired outcome they wish to achieve. Walker has been working with the alumni foundation in an effort to procure donations, and the library has future events currently being planned to aid them in their efforts as well.

Two of these events are: the Merrifield competition, which awards the UND student with the most outstanding research paper and the Elwyn B. Robinson Lecture Series, which is an annual lecture that recognizes the accomplishments of UND faculty and staff.

Dockter made it a point that this process is contingent on student involvement, and that student all-around campus should make their way over to the Chester Fritz Library to make their voices heard.

The deadline for student surveys is fast approaching, and the new furniture will be available for use in the library next semester. 

David Satre is the news editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]