Fine Arts Library unveils fifth floor renovations

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Zhun Jiao, an architecture UT alumni and now working designer, uses the renovated section of the Fine Arts Library for research. The library renovation comes from the increasing demand to halt the removal of books in the spring of 2018.

Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

Old and new volumes of books line the shelves in the fifth floor of the newly renovated Fine Arts Library.

The renovations were unveiled last week and include 60 new study desks, new paint and carpet, enhanced Wi-Fi, a seminar room and additional shelves. Travis Willmann, communications officer for UT Libraries, said the space now serves all students looking for a modernized library.

“If you look at the Fine Arts Library, it addresses the different ways in which the different constituencies use libraries today,” Willmann said. “We now have a space like the fifth floor to improve the experience for people who are used to using libraries in a more traditional way, like discovery by browsing and discovery through the research process itself.”

The library increased shelving capacity in response to last semester’s controversy over the relocation of materials to off-campus storage facilities. The controversy led to protests and forums in the spring. Willmann said the library is still deciding which books to bring out of the storage.

“What we’ve done is increase the availability or the potential availability,” Willmann said. “They are still determining which volumes to fill the additional new space at the Fine Arts Library.”

A task force investigated the protesters’ demands against the removal of materials last semester and the Fine Arts Library Advisory Council provided the task force with student opinion through surveys. The task force released a list of recommendations to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost for the space’s renovation in April.

Studio art junior Logan Larsen said he was active in last semester’s protests, from making posters to conducting letter writing campaigns, and is a part of the advisory council.

“One of the main goals was trying to make it somewhere you wanted to be and wanted to study,” Larsen said. “As it was last year, it was just a dead space. It had the books, but no one could really stay up there because it wasn’t habitable. With the renovations, it’s a completely changed space.”

The fifth floor opened to public use Oct. 30. Davina Presley, health and society sophomore, is already frequenting its shelves.

“I remember a lot of people were afraid that they were going to move the library somewhere else last year,” Presley said. “It’s nice to see the library expanding and adding more things to their collection because now you have much more materials to read and learn from. ”