SLAC Photo Competition Reception

Written by on April 23, 2014

Student input is key in reimagining Kennedy Library

This post is written by Andrew Bui, Student Library Advisory Council.

As a member of the Student Library Advisory Council, I’ve had amazing opportunities to collaborate with library administration about how we experience Kennedy Library. Being  someone who admittedly, (and sometimes unfortunately) views the library as a second home, I felt all the more honored when I was asked to help take the idea of student input even one step further.

Over the past few months a team from the renowned architectural design firm Shepley Bulfinch has been making visits to Cal Poly to help us envision what the future of Kennedy Library could look like. Three things I took away from this experience:

  • I’ve never heard a more appropriate name for the library’s design style than “Brutalism”.
  • Hearing the mind of an architect is like listening to Bill Gates: their knowledge leaves you equal parts amazed yet confused at the same time, in the best way possible.
  • Students really are the heart and soul of Kennedy Library.

Listening to student input

It’s intimidating, to be the seemingly lowly student representative in a room full of adults, and to adequately advocate for every student who walks through the library’s lobby each week. In all honesty, what on earth does a 21-year-old know in comparison to people who work every day at Kennedy Library?

When it comes down to it, the library is for students who use it and view it as a vital part of their identity as a Cal Poly student. During Shepley Bulfinch’s visits, the meetings weren’t so much about sitting through presentations as they were about having genuine conversations about what it’s like to be the student who stays until 2:00AM and then migrates into the 24 hour study room… and how it feels walking in and knowing that there’s at least one friend there who can help you out with that one finance problem. The library is both an area to accomplish learning and a home in which you identify yourself as an integral part of the Cal Poly community.

Shepley Bulfinch did a brilliant job molding student feedback and opinion into potential ideas for Kennedy Library. Whether it be a glass-enclosed reading room in the sky, to making the floors feel less like a concrete box and more of a place of synergy, to adding more of the highly prized and coveted fishbowls, the involvement of students became a driving force behind envisioning the future of the library.

In the end that is one of the things that I enjoy most about Cal Poly. The faculty and staff thrive on student input in everything they do, and let you know that you, as a student, have a very important voice in the room.

For more about reimagining Kennedy Library, read our series about the process.

Photo: Andrew at the community gallery reception for the SLAC Photo Competition, 2013.

Read more on reimagining kennedy library, shepley bulfinch, and student input redesign process.

2 comments on “Student input is key in reimagining Kennedy Library
  1. Dr. Chris Dicus says:

    Totally stoked that you participated. I thought that all of your ideas that I heard were excellent and added great value and perspective to the discussion.

    Good on ya!!!

    Christopher A. Dicus, Ph.D.
    Faculty Fellow
    Office of the Provost
    California Polytechnic State University

  2. Jessica Holada says:

    Andrew, you have such great energy! We adults are grateful for your fresh and personal response to the design process. I’m so glad your voice is helping to represent the students–the Library’s heart, indeed.

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