Reimagining learning: library renovation better serves students


Pacific’s William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center features the John and June Rogers Atrium, a digital maker’s space, a meditation and prayer area, and a full-service Starbucks café.

University of the Pacific’s William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center has reimagined spaces to reflect how students learn today.

Students this fall will benefit from the full transformation, which features the John and June Rogers Atrium, a digital maker’s space, a meditation and prayer area, and a full-service Starbucks café.

“The William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center renovation is one of the top five capital projects in recent Pacific history,” said Chris Madill ’90, director of planning and construction management. “It took the dedication and vision of university and library leaders to alter the essential campus building from a repository of books into a student-focused space … I believe other California-based higher education institutions will learn from our transformative renovation and aspire to do the same.”

The renovation also improved accessibility throughout the facility and sourced sustainably responsible materials that met California Green Building standards and exceeded the state energy standards, Madill said.

This August, Pacific unveiled the Starbucks café and the Multi-faith Meditation and Prayer Area. 

The Starbucks creates a “buzz” space that allows students to greet, meet and collaborate, Madill said.

Its intentional design features windows from the coffee shop into the library to make learning and studying visible. Students can see the action happening inside, said Niraj Chaudhary, associate university librarian for organization innovation. It also will provide on-campus jobs for students, he said.

Established in honor of alumnus and civil rights activist Rev. George Houser ’34, the Multi-faith Meditation and Prayer Area—found above the second floor on a mezzanine—was added in response to students’ requests. 

The space was made possible through the leadership of Dr. Mas’ood Cajee, the lead donor and advisor on the project. More than 70 donors contributed to the space, as well as for an ablution station—one of the first wudhu washing facilities in the U.S. inside an academic library—so Muslim students, faculty and staff can perform the ritual of washing before prayer.

“The William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center renovation celebrates Pacific’s diversity, equality, inclusion and wellness,” Madill said. 

The library’s participatory design process leveraged university-wide input to influence student success for generations to come. Pacific engaged students, faculty, staff, library representatives and campus planners, as well as schools and colleges on the Stockton Campus, alumni and the Associated Students of the University of the Pacific. The feedback was used to choose everything from the furniture to technology, and it led to the creation of the Student Academic Success Hub, which brought together a collection of resources, including tutoring and research librarians.

Philanthropists John and June Rogers pledged $1 million to the project to support the university's goal of facilitating student academic success and improving graduation and retention rates. 

“We were particularly drawn to the Student Academic Support Hub,” said John Rogers. “The more we can intervene and provide students with the services they need to succeed, the more likely they are to stay in school, graduate on time and find success in their careers.”  

Chaudhary said the renovation project added more spaces and technologies to facilitate innovation, collaboration and experiential learning.  

“The library is about giving opportunities for projects through space,” Chaudhary said. “To be a resource for the Pacific community.”

Lisa Cooperman, university curator and assistant professor of practice, used the library this summer to work on the Pacific Advanced Collaboration Summer Fellowship with six students. 

“It is a huge luxury to have this dedicated space,” Cooperman said. “It supports team-based learning and projects, which is how the real world does it. It supports that pedagogical tool of working together.”

The Four Commons:
The library’s first and second floors are divided into four commons—Learning, Innovation, Academic and Reading. 

Innovation Commons: Found on the first floor, this 8,000-square-foot space is for individuals to explore, experiment and exhibit using state-of-the-art technology. It includes The Cube—a glass-walled digital maker space featuring 3D printing, drone services and more—a 100-inch touch screen for presentations, production studios, editing suites, an experimental exhibition space and learning lab.

Learning Commons: This space on the first floor includes group study rooms, collaborative spaces, a Starbucks café, computers and includes the John Muir Experience, which is home to the naturalist's bookshelves, a digital touch screen, books and writing desk.

Reading Commons: Meant to be a quiet space, this second-floor area features floor-to-ceiling windows for students to study while enjoying Pacific's natural beauty. There are individual study pods, as well as study rooms.

Academic Commons: Visible from the library’s entrance, this second-floor space brought vital student success services together to make them accessible and convenient for students. Here you will find the Student Academic Success Hub—tutoring, learning skills, and writing and math help—as well as research librarians' offices, and the Center for Teaching and Learning where instructional designers and faculty collaborate.