In September 2017, the College announced a $75 million gift toward the construction of a library that will anchor a new West Quad of buildings to promote academic achievement and post-graduate success.
As a state-of-the-art library, Kenyon Commons will play a crucial role in our ongoing effort to keep pace with the evolution of teaching and learning — a Kenyon 2020 strategic priority. Across the curriculum, faculty regularly employ active and collaborative learning in their instruction. Students often pursue extended, original research or long-term creative projects; they complete assignments and create new work with advanced digital tools. Over time and as our budget allowed, we have added technology to classrooms and created spaces for project-based work, but retrofitting existing spaces is neither optimal nor cost-effective as a long-term solution. In the Kenyon Commons, we will make the latest technology readily available and simple to use for the broad range of skills among Kenyon’s faculty and create spaces that flex to the collaborative and project-based work students pursue in and out of the classroom.
Finally, not only are Olin and Chalmers libraries not optimized for 21st-century learning, they are at their physical limits. We face $18 million in maintenance costs alone, including electrical, heating, ventilation and cooling systems. On an average day in the fall 2016 semester, 1,672 visitors (some repeat) came through the doors of Olin and Chalmers libraries, a 37.5 percent increase from a decade ago. Modest renovations have increased seating and natural light to reading areas, and we have expanded our library and information technology services, but these changes are not sufficient to support Kenyon’s current students and faculty — and the College’s leading role in liberal arts education.
Research and discussions about the Commons have been underway since 2014. During that time, the College has actively engaged the campus community in conversations about the design, programming and green aspects of the building. A logistics team was formed in 2015 to develop strategies for delivering library services during the construction period. That work is being discussed this fall in a series of open meetings designed to obtain feedback and suggestions from students, faculty and staff
Construction of the Kenyon Commons will begin in June 2018 and is expected to be complete in summer 2020.
Strategies for delivering library services during the construction of the Kenyon Commons have been guided by two principles: