The McDermott Library is currently undergoing various renovation projects to enhance UTD students’ study experiences and create a more welcoming and open environment.
For the past few years, as UTD has drastically increased in physical size and population, several additions have been made to improve the library’s academic aura. The library is using grant money to improve its educational amenities and upgrade technology so that a greater number of students can study comfortably. Much of this grant money is going towards the creation of more smart study rooms, upgrading technology in the instruction room, a mindfulness room, and upgrading worn out furniture.
The most popular study rooms in the library are two smart study rooms where students can connect their devices via Bluetooth to a large display screen and practice for presentations, conduct group study sessions, and more. An additional six smart study rooms are under construction and will be opened to students by the end of September to make more space for collaborate studying.
Ellen Safley, the Dean of Library Services, said “We also got money to redo what we call our instruction room, that’s where groups of students come from a class to learn more about the library. That room is in the Southwest corner of the second floor. It has laptops in it, and all the presentation software and hardware will be replaced.”
Along with improved study spaces, a mindfulness room will be added and used as a meditation, prayer, and silent study room. Currently, this project is experimental, and may or may not be continued depending on how students interact with the space. The room will become available within the next month.
“It will be a study room that won’t have furniture in it except a place to put your shoes, and you can check out [the room] for about an hour… so people can find a quiet place to think or pray,” Safely said
The library has also made several changes to it furniture layout. The library is structured such that the higher floors are reserved for quiet study whereas the bottom floors are for collaborative study. To preserve quiet study spaces, more comfortable self-study tables and cubicles were added on the third floor.
Chris Edwards, the Head of Research Services, said “[On the third floor], we had very collaborative furniture, like open tables, that encouraged students to sit together, and to no disparagement, [students] would talk, and this was supposed to be one of our more quiet floors. So that furniture was moved and we ordered more furniture to match a quiet study space.”
Using gate counters attached to the library’s security gates, the library is able to keep track of the number of students entering the building through its West and East gates. The gate counters show that the 2018-2019 fiscal year had almost 1,300,000 people entering the library. However, the library’s usage heavily decreased with only about 100,000 people entering the building during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. With the pandemic dying down and students reentering campus for in-person learning, new library renovations hope to support a greater student population and create an increasingly conducive academic atmosphere.
Edwards said “Overall, our goal is to make it so that more students can use the library more
comfortably…we’re always trying to shift and adjust to what our students want right now.”