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Wilson Library spaces: Upcoming changes and new directions

By October 25, 2016September 16th, 2023No Comments

Recent surveys and focus groups with our faculty and student users have guided our plans to  redesign Wilson Library to better align with contemporary scholarly needs.

Wilson Library, a classic mid century building, has had few programmatic renovations since it opened in 1968. Originally built to house 1.5 million volumes, Wilson now holds 3.6 million — severely limiting the amount and variety of user spaces available for study, collections use, consultation, technology access, and collaboration.

Conversations with users have helped begin to shape near-term plans and are contributing to longer term planning. Renovation of Wilson Library and addition of collection storage capacity is on the University’s future legislative agenda, and predesign is slated to begin in the next month. As this work unfolds, we will seek opportunities for deeper engagement with faculty, student, staff, and community users to refine the vision for a future Wilson library.

While waiting for a full renovation, the Libraries will continue to make modest investments to improve space in Wilson, and to test new service models. The first of these will be the creation of a Research Collaboration Studio in the current reference collection space.

Research Collaboration Studio coming to Wilson

Part of first floor to close Nov. 7 for construction

Coming soon to Wilson Library: A flexible, open, and experimental collaboration space where faculty, students, librarians, and technologists can work together, leveraging digital tools for innovative research, learning and the creation of new knowledge. 

The Studio is a destination for collaboration, consultation, and presentation on digital scholarship, online publishing, geospatial data, entrepreneurship, and learning innovation.

The space can be flexibly configured to support small project teams, group seminars, and consultations.

The studio is expected to open by fall 2017 on the first floor of Wilson Library in the space currently occupied by the reference collection. To allow for construction, this area will be closed beginning November 7.

Access to reference materials

Based on use analyses of the reference collection, fewer than 5 percent of the reference collection titles are in regular use. The reference collection will remain available during construction of the Wilson Research Collaboration Studio:

  • All reference materials will remain in Wilson Library
  • Highly used reference materials will remain on the first floor
  • Microform materials will move to the Wilson basement
  • The majority of materials will be integrated into the general collections and will be available for check out
  • All reference materials will be searchable via the online catalog
  • Specialized databases, including the Bloomberg Terminal and Visual History Archive, will be relocated to other public areas.

Public computers, as well as the printer, will be relocated to the lobby area. Additional computers will be placed in the basement.

Other Wilson Library Updates

Periodicals and Dewey Decimal collections moving
The east section of the fourth floor of Wilson Library will re-open before Finals Week, providing additional study space. The area has been closed since late August, allowing staff to process the relocation of collections classified with the Dewey Decimal system. Some of these Dewey materials will be re-classified into our Library of Congress system and remain in Wilson, while others will be moved to off-site storage.

The bound and current periodicals, in the basement of Wilson Library, will be relocated to the third and fourth floors.

SMART Learning Commons now on 4th floor
Just a reminder that the SMART Learning Commons is now located on the fourth floor of Wilson and will remain there through the academic year.

Help is always available at the first floor service desk.


If you have any questions, please contact us at

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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