BCWH Presents on the Value of Strategic Planning

As part of last week’s Virginia Library Association Annual Conference, BCWH’s Emily Hogan presented alongside Tappé Associates, Jeff Hoover, on the value of developing strategic plans to guide the transformation of outdated library environments.  Acknowledging financial resources are now, more than ever, in short supply; the presentation stressed how a long-term view of facility improvements can positively and powerfully impact small-scale, incremental renovations.

The pair reviewed the recently completed renovation of the main floor at Roanoke College’s Fintel Library. The library was significantly renovated and expanded in 1991, but since only received minimal funding to keep its spaces current, updated and fresh. The Library staff initially envisioned this project as a small scale renovation to a back corner of the main floor – replacing stacks and outdated reading tables with more flexible, collaborative furnishings for student use.  If funds could be stretched, staff hoped to replace carpet and apply a fresh coat of paint to the walls.

In conversations with Library Director, Stan Umberger, it was agreed the design approach should take a broader, long-range view.  In collaboration with the Library Director, Library staff, and student body president during an intense two-day charrette session, we developed a comprehensive plan to renovate the entire main floor.  In the context of collectively agreed upon strategic goals, scalable incremental solutions were identified and prioritized in response to available funding.

The holistic design incorporated new spaces for student collaboration and focused study, a new information commons, a renovated café space, custom shelving for new books and periodicals, as well as improvements to the lending service desk and reference area.  The monumental stair, added in 1991 to connect all floors, would be opened to connect all elements of the design and improve visibility through the library.  New furniture, carpet and finishes were chosen to cohesively unite the design.

Expecting to implement the renovations over several years and to only be able to fund renovation of the student collaboration space, the design was presented to the College’s leadership.  In a wonderful turn of events, widespread support emerged to fund as much of the main floor renovation as possible turning the long-term vision into a short-term reality!  Construction started at the beginning of summer break and was completed before the end of fall break.

We’ve been able to witness a remarkable transformation of the Library’s main floor in a very short span of time.  The Library staff’s initial goals for this project had been able to create a space that would be: busy, comfortable, flexible, open, current, vibrant, intentional, and an academic center of the campus.  We’re thrilled to see that these objectives have all been met!

Click here to read more about the Fintel Library project and to see more photos of the renovated space.

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