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UNCW invests in new expansion to Randall Library

Randall Library is under construction as UNCW works to expand the building and resources it offers. (Peyton Lewis/The Seahawk)

UNCW broke ground on a significant development back in 2022. The university commenced building for a three-story expansion at Randall Library with the hope of providing enhanced study spaces catering to the needs of both students and faculty members alike.

According to a press release from the university, the multimillion-dollar project is expected to be completed in time for the 2024 fall semester, The three-floor expansion will feature increased resources and space for students; additionally, the original Randall Library building will receive renovations, including new windows and an expanded graduate student space.

Throughout the planning process, the university actively sought and integrated student feedback and recommendations. The objective guiding the expansion design was to dedicate a space that addressed the needs of the students.

The idea first arose in 2016, when students began to feel overcrowded on campus. As the university has continued to grow, the need for additional student spaces has increased, and even current students still struggle to find open study areas in the library. Freshmen student, Jaimee Suwalkowski, said “Study spaces get taken up quick, so it will be nice to have a new study area.”

Increased study spaces are not the only new feature that will be available to students. From the survey, feedback from students included concerns over lack of a designated quiet space on campus. The third floor of the expanded library will house a reading room that offers a quiet space for students to work. The floor will include more tables for students to study both individually and in a group; additionally, a space referred to as “the lookout” will offer students a space with comfortable seating and natural light.

Associate Dean of the Library, Laura McBrayer said, “One thing we have heard from students over the years, is that sometimes even the second floor is a little noisy, so we have a deep, quiet space that we will be able to open up to students on the third floor of the library.”

Aside from extra study areas, the expansion will house an additional space for technology, including a larger digital makerspace and expanded podcast studio. The intended goal of this space is for students to have a place on campus to combine a creative, yet designated spot to do their work.

Although students have yet to see the inside of the new library, outside features have caught their attention. In addition to inside renovations, the new library will be connected to the original building by a bridge. The glass bridge nicknamed “the link,” according to McBrayer, creates easy access between the two buildings. First-year student Ryleigh Estby said, “I know that [the library] has a really pretty bridge, and I will probably be there every single day.”

The updated library will also provide a new place for connection between students and UNCW faculty. Student Government Association (SGA) member, Hannah McCary explained that the expansion will provide more space for teachers to meet with their students.

“It is a great opportunity for students to connect with one another and engage more in their studies,” she added.

“We are trying to meet student needs based on what we learned,” McBrayer said. “We are looking forward to getting input and feedback from students after we open the space on how to continue to make things better.”

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