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Not your grandparents' library; thousands get exciting peek at $65M GVSU Mary Idema Pew Library







With its four-story glass walled atrium, a cafeteria and coffee bar, and state-of-the-art learning pods, the future Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons on Grand Valley State University's Allendale campus is not your grandparents' hushed library.

Over 2,000 students and media braved winds and pouring rain on April 17 for an exciting sneak peek at the 150,000-square-foot eco-friendly facility. Excited shouts of "woohoo!" and "yes!" could be heard as students entered the atrium space, mobile phones raised high to capture the moment on camera. One student was overheard saying, "Going to the library just got cool."

The $65 million library, which connects to the Kirkhof Center, will serve GVSU's 25,000 students, offering 150,000 shelved books and 600,000 library items accessible using an automated retrieval system.

But the offerings incorporate more than just reading materials. An innovative Knowledge Market will allow students access to expertise in research, writing, public presentations, and technology through other students who are specially trained as peer consultants.

"The state librarian is looking at our Knowledge Market as a model for other libraries," says Lee Van Orsdel, dean of Grand Valley’s University Libraries. "This concept is a first in academic libraries. We don't know anywhere else where learning is so fully integrated."

The library also includes private study areas, a student art gallery with glass walls, private presentation pods with audio/video technology, and upper-floor views over the campus.

The project is on track for the highest LEED certification, according to architects Tod Stevens and Janice Suchan of SHW Group, and will use half the energy of traditional buildings of similar size.

The library will open at the end of June.

Design: SHW Group
Civil engineers: FTC&H
Construction: Pioneer Construction

Source: Lee Van Orsdel, Grand Valley State University; Tod Stevens and Janice Suchan, SHW Group
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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