The UCLA Library completed renovations to the major public spaces in the Charles E. Young Research Library in fall 2011, and the new facilities have proven to be extremely popular with UCLA students, faculty and visitors. During the fall quarter, over 195,000 people visited the library, more than double the number during the same period the year before.
The renovations focused on the first floor and lower level of this classic Mid-century Modern building, designed by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons. The executive architect for the project was the global interdisciplinary design firm Perkins and Will, with Eva Maddox Branded Environments.
“Guided by the themes of discovery, journey and collaboration, we developed these new spaces to support pedagogy and research, both now and into the future,” said UCLA University Librarian Gary E. Strong. “Academic research libraries are no longer defined by their physical collections, and this redesign reshapes our collection access, services and facilities to support our users throughout their academic and professional careers.”
The Young Research Library provides research-level collections, services and facilities for graduate students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences. It was constructed in two phases; the first opened in 1964 and the second in 1971.
In accordance with University of California policy, the renovations adhere to green building principles established by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) national rating system. The building is expected to achieve the status of LEED Gold (Commercial Interiors 2.0) once the U.S. Green Building Council completes its review of the library’s documentation.
About the library’s new spaces
An open, collaborative research commons offers 22 flexible, technology-enabled “pods” in which students and faculty can utilize library resources, conduct research and work with one another. Holding up to 10 users, each pod contains a large LCD monitor operated by a laptop. Also part of the commons are 15 group-study rooms, a classroom and a laptop lending desk. The research commons has been very popular with both instructors and students, accommodating everything from instructional sessions to office hours to project demonstrations.
Created in conjunction with the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities, an adjacent space houses the Laboratory for Digital Cultural Heritage. In this area, which is equipped with a large-screen rear-projection system and specialized workstations, courses are taught in UCLA’s undergraduate digital humanities minor and graduate certificate program. In keeping with the open nature of the larger research commons, all activities in this space can be viewed by those walking by, fueling serendipitous discovery and information exchange.
An expansive, glass-enclosed reading room supports quiet study and research while still offering views of activities in surrounding spaces. Frequently used print reference materials are housed in this room, and seating is available at both large tables and in individual lounge chairs. Librarians staff a service desk, where they answer quick reference questions and provide in-depth assistance with sophisticated research inquiries, with an adjacent consultation area for meetings with larger groups.
The library’s conference center has been expanded to add a spacious, technology-equipped conference room. In its first few months, this new space has accommodated conferences, film screenings and large group meetings. Together with the existing presentation room, boardroom and parlor, the conference center now offers a large, flexible suite in which to present expanded programming.
The first floor also contains an open gallery adjacent to the front entrance, which currently houses an exhibit of unique and rare special collections materials related to Charles Dickens. A second enclosed exhibit gallery will showcase UCLA Library treasures on long-term display. Two lounges and a popular coffee bar complete the new first-floor spaces.
On the library’s lower level, former staff work space has been opened up to create a spacious, light-filled study commons framed by views onto the green berm that surrounds the building. The commons accommodates more than 100 users at tables and in individual chairs. Open stacks house newspapers and unbound periodicals, and self-service cabinets contain frequently used microformat materials and maps.
Adjacent to the study commons, the entrance into the Department of Special Collections has been opened up. Full-length glass doors offer passers-by a view of the department’s lobby and exhibit area, inviting them to come in and see what’s on view.
Large-format electronic signage at the building entrance and throughout the first floor and lower level also supports the renovation’s themes of discovery, journey and collaboration. With content varying by location, the signage communicates timely information, such as hours and events, showcases digital collections and new acquisitions, and honors donors.