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Helmke Library to Open January 9

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Photo credit: Mikaela Conley

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Written by: Mikaela ConleyDecember 07, 2016

After a year of construction and renovations — the building’s first since it opened in 1972 — the Helmke Library will reopen Jan. 9, the first day of classes in the spring 2017 semester.

“It does feel a little chaotic right now because everything is coming together all at once,” said Cheryl Truesdell, dean of the library; however, she said, everything is still on schedule.

While the building will be “soft-opening” to students and the public on Jan.9, faculty and administrative staff will be invited for tours the week before class resumes.

An official open house will take place Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place around 10:20 a.m. that day, and tours will be given throughout the week.

Student and faculty work will be featured in the new Learning Commons around 11 a.m. This wil include readings and music in the new presentation space on the second floor, according to Beth Boatrite, librarian and a member of the Helmke Refresh marketing group.

There will also be a digital scavenger hunt for students with prizes and refreshments to be offered.

Beginning Jan. 18 and until Jan. 27, “discovery tours” will be offered daily for students, faculty, staff and the public, Boatright said in an email.

Truesdell said she hopes people take advantage of the event.

“Get to know your library; come back and see all the exciting things you can do here,” she said.

Among the many renovations that have been completed, Truesdell said she is most excited about the stairs that will connect the first and second floors together; the multiple study spaces that have been added for students; and the media wall that will consist of four 65-inch screens will display news events and Truesdell also brought up the potential of hosting gaming nights for students.

Many study spaces and rooms were also added so students can have a lot of different options to study in quiet spaces either alone or in groups. Rooms were also added for lectures or presentations. Studio M 2 will also have 20 more workstations available.

The concierge desk on the second floor will offer one-stop help from IT consultants, librarians, and The Writing Center.

An art hanging system is also going to be installed in the learning commons area on the second floor, and librarians have been working with the fine arts department on campus to provide art for the opening week.

Baby changing stations have also been added in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. In the spring, Truesdell said, a room for nursing mothers will be added.

“I feel like we’ve made some progress there,” she said.

As Truesdell is retiring at the end of this fall semester, the opening of the new library is the ultimate retirement party.

“It’s a culmination of the dreams and plans that we’ve had for many years,” she said.

This type of renovation has been in the works for the library since the late ‘90s, and the talk became action in 2006 when it became a goal to have the new skybridge open up into a learning commons that was appealing, bright and high technology.

It was a long process of interviewing students, taking notes and going to other universities to see what their libraries had to offer.

But, the plans could not be set in motion until the legislature appointed money for infrastructure renovations.

“I’m just so proud that I was able to be here when it actually happened,” Truesdell said. “It feels like a culmination of those 33, 34 years of beginning with the card catalog and moving to a digital age,” she said.

Truesdell is handing the new library over to Alexis Macklin, who will begin Jan. 2.

Truesdell said Macklin is amazing, full of energy and committed to keeping Helmke a scholarly, academic library. Macklin is coming to IPFW from the University of Colorado Boulder. She has a PhD from Purdue University and has worked at the Purdue Library as well.

Truesdell also said the library has been affected by the USAP and LSA recommendations.

“I would like to make it clear that the money that is being used for the renovation came from the state legislature, it did not come from our general fund,” she said.

A portion of the money appointed from the legislature went to Kettler Hall for renovations and part came to the library, she said.

And 90 percent of that money has gone to HVAC, power, lights and more, she said. These updates are actually expected to save the campus money, as LED lighting is being added and the heat and electric systems were updated.

A lot of the money for furniture, etc. came from an endowment that was established in the late ‘90s, she said.

“We built this specifically for the students. Almost everything we’ve done here is for the students,” Truesdell said. “They should claim it. They should love it. And they should be proud of it.

The marketing events for the Helmke Refresh project have been organized with the help of Beth Keller’s ENG W462 class who has been studying project management. Teams of students were challenged to plan events and marketing strategies for the library’s opening and presented their ideas to the marketing team.

“The students have done stellar work,” Boatright said, “and we are excited about the creativity and innovation they brought to this project.”