Wesleyan students helped redesign library
BUCKHANNON — From having input into the design down to the carpet, students at West Virginia Wesleyan College put their mark on the renovations of the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library.
At a ribbon cutting Thursday, WVWC president Dr. Joel Thierstein said, “When you go inside, look for a couple of new things. First, you will find new spaces designed by students for students including a very popular milkshake machine,” he said.
“This project from its inception has been student driven and the students are responsible for much of what you are going to see. Second, you are going to find a new concept in libraries – a new way of thinking about the library. You will find that the library has reemerged as the academic center of campus.”
Lauren Hatcher, president of the student body, said she worked with a group of students, architects and others in the Wesleyan community to alter the space to the needs of current and future students.
Keeping the homey and familiar feeling of the library was important to those who worked on the project, according to Hatcher. At the same time, the students had ideas of what they could do to make the space more modern and had specific requests even where a certain outlet should go.
“Students got to design and create almost every single bit of this space even down to carpet and paint colors,” she said.
One of the biggest changes wasn’t aesthetic but will add convenience for students.
“As someone who has worked at the library, requesting a 24-hour option seemed like a really far-off distinct dream but as the theme of this has gone, people worked really hard to get us what we wanted,” Hatcher said.
“On behalf of all the students I want to thank those who worked to make our dreams for this building and this space come true. I know it will benefit future students even more than we can imagine, which is really incredible. I have heard nothing but gratitude and awe as people have walked in.”
Zachary “Dutch” Mutchler, a five-year MBA student, spent much of his college career in the library until last semester when the renovations began.
“When you walk into this library, it’s not students sitting at tables scared to speak above a whisper in fear of a scary librarian yelling at them. This library is filled with talking, laughter, smiles and, on the rare occasion, tears from the stress of college.
“You will see people both working diligently in our new huddle rooms, entire classes gathered together to further understand information and even some people walking around the library in what we call the lap,” he said.
“I was always told you don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” he said. “I never quite understood this until last semester when we lost this library to the renovation. Campus seemed to be in a disarray. Students were roaming around fighting for rooms within the academic buildings and everybody just seemed lost. But after this difficult and trying semester, we have this beautiful building back and I can’t say I have ever been happier.”
“Dr. Thierstein, Dr. Scott McKinney (chief financial officer) and everybody else involved in this process, I thank you for bringing new life back into this building and returning my home back to me,” Mutchler said. “To the librarians especially who have spent every waking minute taking care of me… and funneling coffee into my system during finals I think you so much for practically raising me these last four years. I can’t wait to spend every waking minute of my last year in this beautiful building in my new home in my home among the hills.”
Alison Whitehair, director of student retention, oversees the Title III grant on campus which is wrapping up in just a couple of weeks.
“This project was funded through our Title III Strengthening Institutions grant,” she said. “As we have progressed through the last five years, the Wesleyan community has been very fortunate to benefit from this $10 million grant which has funded classroom renovations, faculty and staff development and very important student services.
“The library has become the ultimate capstone project for the grant and I can’t think of a better way to close out this period in Wesleyan’s history. The addition of tutoring and writing center services into this space as well as all the other upgrades that will benefit student learning will truly change the student experience for all of our students today and tomorrow. “
Dr. James Moore, dean of the faculty, said, “I could not be more excited about this project. To the students who were involved in the design of this project and the students who endured the semester when the library was off-line, thank you for your engagement, for your thoughts, for your patience, for your energy and your vision. We are truly so proud of the student body here at WVWC.”
Moore recognized the work of McKinney and Vaughn Hartley, director of the physical plant, as well as faculty and staff who stepped up to help students where needed.
“This library redesign is but another indication that West Virginia Wesleyan College truly is the strongest institution of higher learning in this state,” Moore said. “We care about teaching and lifelong learning.”
Brett Miller, director of library services, acknowledged the difficulty of having a scaled down version of the library in Nellie Wilson Lounge and staff working from two sites last semester.
“We think the wait has been worth it,” he said. “We think the result you will see is well worth the slight inconvenience.”
“We know that libraries are important in our society now more so than ever,” Miller said. “The ability to find information, have access to information and to be able to use it ethically and responsibly is one of the highest responsibilities we have to instill in our students, in our society as a whole and our library staff takes that responsibility very seriously. We are very encouraged by our student body who is engaged with us in that process. We are educators as well as folks who provide access to information. We think it’s very important now that libraries serve the purpose they do and that it serves the central academic purpose of this campus.”
Miller said he is excited about moving the library’s rare book collection, Lincoln collection and other important artifacts to the first floor — a project still in the works.
“We wanted to make it more publicly available and visible to people rather than have it hidden away,” he said.
There will be rotating exhibits with student interns helping plan those.
“I am really enjoying the openness of the middle atrium,” Miller said. “The accessibility of the building is really great. I am really happy with it. We will be going to 24-hour access later this week. A lot of folks come here, they don’t to move once they are already here.
Although the library will not be staffed 24-7, students, faculty and staff will be able to gain access via their student access cards and have use of the study spaces and materials. Certain rooms such as the rare book room will be closed after hours.