Work is underway on a $9 million renovation that will transform Grove City College’s Henry Buhl Library into a contemporary study and workspace for today’s students.
Three quarters of the nearly 70-year-old structure will undergo an extreme makeover with the addition of group study and classroom space, a new reading room, updated stacks, a café, lounge and patio. The work also includes state-of-the-art technology and ample power sources for student computing.
“The library is the major information center on campus and we strive to support our students’ changing technology needs, study habits and academic expectations in the 21st century,” Library Director Barbra Munnell said. “The renovation will enable the library to improve upon providing the academic support necessary to help students succeed while giving them ample space to work together, to study and to be a community of scholars.”
While the library has seen a series of technological upgrades and the addition of the Writing Center a decade ago, this is the first major renovation to the building since it opened in 1954. It represents a nearly top to bottom renovation and redesign of Buhl Library aimed at creating a space that fits the needs of students today.
A large study space and reference room will occupy most of the reimagined library’s ground floor, along with the Writing Center, Academic Resource Center and the relocated registrar’s office. A new, open stairway will connect it to the first-floor learning commons, which offers flexible study and collaboration space with enclosed individual and group study rooms, classroom space and a mobile-friendly lobby lounge.
The current reference library space will be converted into a café that opens onto a new patio between the library and Weir C. Ketler Technological Learning Center. The famous stacks will remain, but with updated carpet and lighting, new study tables, seating and ample outlets. The building’s electrical and HVAC systems are also being upgraded.
When it is all said and done, Munnell said students will have a refreshed and more flexible space. “No matter how a student prefers to study, with a group of friends, in a quiet and private study space, or somewhere in between, there will be a place for everyone,” she said.
The major work is being done in two phases. Most of the ground floor work and second floor stacks will be completed this summer in time for student use in the fall. Work will begin again in December on the first floor and continue through summer 2022.
The College received a $2.5 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trust for the library, but the bulk of the project’s $9 million cost is being covered by donations from the College’s generous supporters. Anyone interested in contributing to the effort should visit giving.gcc.edu/SupportBuhl.
Looking forward to serving students amid the construction, Munnell said the library staff is flexible and planned ahead so they can adapt and maintain the same quality of professional service that the College community depends on.
More than 1,500 shelves of books were either relocated or condensed to allow access for construction and more than 5,700 books and journals were boxed up for storage off site, Munnell said.
Henry Buhl Library is named for a former College trustee and namesake of the Buhl Foundation -- which contributed a third of the library’s original $750,000 construction cost. Built in the Gothic style, the limestone and sandstone edifice reflects the look of Crawford Hall and Harbison Chapel. It was the last piece of the original campus plan drawn up by the famed Olmstead Brothers to be completed.