Waldo Library's lower level reopens Jan. 9 with updates, new layout

Contact: Sara Volmering

Waldo Library's renovations include new carpet, energy-efficient lighting and a user-friendly layout.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University students will enjoy a refreshed study area in Waldo Library's lower level when the space reopens on Monday, Jan. 9.

The floor closed in June for construction, allowing crews to install new carpet, ceiling tiles and energy-efficient lighting. The floor will also feature an improved seating layout and more accessible book stacks. Additional new furniture will be added later this spring.

"Students are going to love the new space," says Julie Garrison, dean of University Libraries. "It feels brighter and more modern and has plenty of space for collaboration and our technology services."

When the floor reopens, library users can resume browsing the lower level's print collection, which was offline during construction.

Though the materials never left the library, storing the print collection during construction added complexity to the project. Crews moved over 20,000 linear feet of shelving loaded with print items throughout the project.

"The sheer size of our print collection creates unique challenges for any facility update," says Garrison. "Moving thousands of items off-site wasn't feasible, so crews had to move the collection around the floor to access all areas."

Waldo Library's Technology Lab, including 3D printing, virtual reality and flight simulator labs, will also return to the lower level in January. The new layout will make these services easier to access and more comfortable.

"The space was a bit cramped, especially for our flight simulator users. The simulators had to share space with our 3D printers, which can be noisy and create heat," says Alex Teal, emerging technology specialist. "The new layout will allow us to separate those services and give our users a better experience."

Many Technology Lab services are stationed in the open space. The new layout will give students more room to use these technologies collaboratively.

"I think students will enjoy playing virtual reality with their friends, especially our cooperative games like Beat Saber and Among Us," says Teal.

"The lower level has always had a more relaxed vibe, and students love it for group meetings," says Sara Volmering, marketing manager. "The new layout will make it more conducive for students to meet and study together. If you need a place in the library to meet people and be creative, the lower level is your best bet."

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