Earlier this year I asked Mark Balschweid and Larry Van Tassell to co-chair a task force of faculty and staff with the objective of evaluating the current C.Y. Thompson Library facility. This was the result of conversation initiated in July 2012 by former Dean of Libraries Joan Giesecke followed by a subsequent discussion with current Dean Nancy Busch in fall of 2012. These conversations had centered around future potential for re-thinking the use of the facility for more effective student and community interactive learning given that over the past several decades utilization of the facility in its current form and presentation has continued to decline. I was very intrigued by the initial discussions and saw this as ripe with potential opportunity for our students and academic community.
The task force was appointed in early January and quickly went to work. They held several open focus group discussions on campus with multiple user groups and have studied similar discussions and their outcomes on contemporary university campuses around the country. Earlier this month, the task force submitted their report to me for consideration with the recommendation that the facility be re-developed to become a “student learning center commons” that would retain a library role while broadening the remit to include a student interactive learning center concept. Their proposal also includes the recommendation that an addition be designed for the east face of the building to provide an amphitheater connecting to the arboretum area of the campus. This plan would also merge with the recent Campus Master Plan proposal that calls for a student commons green space better connecting the plaza between the Nebraska East Union, C.Y. Thompson, and Filley Hall.
You may find a copy of the full task force report at: Bulls Buckles and Books Rethinking CY Thompson Final Report
I am very appreciative of the diligent, efficient, and highly productive work of the task force. We are now in the process of engaging a design firm to provide to us the scope of the project, with the expectation that their report would be available to us in the latter part of this summer. This next step will allow us to better envision a renovated facility for discussion and feedback with the greater campus community in the fall semester, with the expectation of leading to a private fund raising effort to support the project in the coming year.
I am excited about this opportunity and hope that you will further engage with us as we explore it in the coming months.