Library of the Future

New Library at UT Chattanooga

By Cindy Carroll

New Library at UT Chattanooga
Construction continues on the new library at UTC, which will open in the 2014-15 academic year. PHOTO BY JAIMIE DAVIS

Inspirational views through soaring glass windows. Group study rooms. A Starbucks. Lots and lots of electronic holdings. A lab with a green screen room and an audio booth. It doesn’t sound like a library anymore, does it?

More than six years in the making, the library planning committee at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga envisioned an “academic and intellectual center of campus, a marketplace of ideas” where student resources are all in one beautiful, modern building. Theresa Liedtka, dean of the UTC Library, and Janet Spraker, director of engineering services, oversee the plans for the $48 million structure, scheduled to open in academic year 2014-15. A popular spot in the new building will be the secure study space, accessible 24/7. Students also will be welcomed to a first floor with a “Barnes and Noble” vibe.

“A cool lounge filled with outlets, hubs and ports will allow students to plug in, recharge and study. The study rooms offer a variety of seating options,” Liedtka says.

Fear not, bibliophiles. About 5,000 print books are purchased annually by the library, which currently holds 400,000 books. Thirty years of growth is built into the new building to accommodate future acquisitions. Electronic holdings are growing much more rapidly. In addition to the 130,000 e-books currently available, the library is purchasing 20,000 more each year.

All this good stuff will be housed in a sustainable building. This academic hub of the future features enormous underground cisterns to allow the capture of rainwater and condensation from mechanical systems. That water will feed Chamberlain Field. Natural sunlight will stream through the building’s windows, saving electricity. Low-flow toilets and faucets, recycling centers on each floor—for all these efforts, the University is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

The library will also feature elements of the past. The fourth-floor grand reading room will resemble an old library—wood paneling, leather seats and old journals will create a familiar feeling.