April 23, 2018

U.C. Library Renovations Double Visitors

Usage of the newly renovated McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz has doubled since the renovation. M. Elizabeth Cowell, associate university librarian, told LJ that gate count through December 2011 showed 201,100 visits, compared with 90,381 for the same time the previous year. That’s even more impressive when you consider that the building, renovated by boora architects, only reopened in June 2011.

Among the new services McHenry offers are 20 group study rooms available for online booking. Cowell told LJthe rooms are booked 50 percent of the time. “We see this as a great success for a new service,” Cowell said, particularly since it doesn’t represent the whole usage picture: if a room is vacant 15 minutes after the hour students can use it without booking. Other new features include laptop bars and an outdoor reading porch.

UCLA Research Library Reading Room

UCLA Research Library Reading Room; photo by Paul Turang

The library’s renovations, which cost an estimated $100 million, also added a café in the foyer. It is outside the security gates, so visitors to the café and not the library itself are not included in the 201,000 count. The café recorded approximately 56,000 transactions from September to January.

Nor is Santa Cruz the only U.C. school to reap big rewards from a library renovation. The UCLA Library completed renovations to the major public spaces in the Charles E. Young Research Library in fall 2011, spearheaded by architects Perkins and Will, with Eva Maddox Branded Environments. 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, which focused on the first floor and lower level, include 22 flexible, technology-enabled “pods,” each of which holds up to 10 users and contains a large LCD monitor operated by a laptop. There are also 15 group-study rooms, a classroom, reading room and laptop lending desk. An adjacent space houses the Laboratory for Digital Cultural Heritage. The library’s conference center added a conference room to the existing presentation room, boardroom and parlor. There’s also an open and an enclosed exhibit area, two lounges and a coffee bar, and an open study commons.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

The Latest Trends in Library Design
Hosted in partnership with Salt Lake County Library and The City Library—at SLCo’s Viridian Center—the newest installment of our library building and design event will let you dig deep with architects, librarians, and vendors to explore building, renovating, and retrofitting spaces to better engage your community.


  1. Gwen Welch says:

    Adding fresh ideas, designs and furnishings spurs citizens to view libraries as the “heartbeat” of the community.