Creating closer connections between the library and the classroom

Texas Christian University, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Fort Worth, TX

The role of the library has shifted. With information available literally in the palm of our hands, today’s students’ relationships with libraries are less concerned with borrowing books as they are with the services libraries can provide—such as printing and technology tools—and the synergies they help create.

At Texas Christian University (TCU), our team worked with Hahnfeld Hoffer & Stanford to transform the Mary Couts Burnett Library—which was one of the first structures built as the centerpiece of its Intellectual Commons, an academic precinct dedicated to cross-disciplinary innovation and exploration—into a welcoming environment that not only offers study and research offerings, but also an atmosphere that students feel comfortable with.

While the design we helped create reflected the school’s historic roots via highlighting elements like the original structure (it originally opened in 1924, with additions in 1954 and 1982 respectively), we also made sure technology offerings were made readily available. This included providing more USB ports, power receptacles, a gigabyte lab for jumbo-file multimedia editing, a fabrication lab with 3-D printers, a theater screening room for video homework and a “digital sandbox” for testing software and gadgetry.

Outside of the technological offerings, our redesign opened up the library for cultural and student-focused events. A café, multi-story lobby with tiered seating, outdoor patio and multiple group study rooms continue to challenge the notion that a library should be a quiet space.