Written by on November 13, 2014

Moving into a new phase of the master planning process

Yesterday the Kennedy Library’s Building Program Committee* met for the last time, a concluding meeting that marked the end of one process and the beginning of another. It was an opportunity to review where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished with our stakeholders, and where we’re going in order to support the Cal Poly community in the future.

To recap, the reimagining project was comprised of three phases: 1) Visioning Sessions, 2) Program and Plan Refinement and 3) Recommendations.

Visioning sessions

On November 21 and 22, 2013, a project team from the architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch visited the Robert E. Kennedy Library for visioning sessions. They met with faculty, students, staff, and the community to learn about how we can meet the core needs of the campus in a rapidly changing time. Their visit kicked off a project to reimagine Kennedy Library for the next 5-10 years, a time period many of us consider to be a bridge between the bustling library we know now, and the inspiring library of the future, also known as the academic commons.

Dean of Library Services Anna Gold chaired a steering committee that included Vice Provost and CIO Michael Miller, Director of Facilities Planning & Capital Projects Joel Neel, and Dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Christine Theodoropoulos. The Building Program Committee, of which I was co-chair, included representatives of the library’s leadership team and the Student Library Advisory Council/ASI, as well as other leaders from Information Services, Student Affairs, and the offices of the President and the Provost.

Program and plan refinement

In February 2014 Shepley Bulfinch shared initial design concepts with the steering and building program committees, as well as with staff, faculty, academic partners and students. Their concepts reflected our list of priorities:

  1. Support collaborative work through diverse environments.
  2. Invite campus engagement by hosting events, exhibits and gatherings.
  3. Expand presence and community awareness of Special Collections and Archives.
  4. Reveal student, faculty, and staff work generated within and facilitated by the library.
  5. Make visible the intellectual vibrancy at the library.
  6. Enhance staff communication and productivity.
  7. Promote synergies and shared space among campus partners.
  8. Incorporate technology mindfully.
  9. Preserve individual, quiet study space.


Finally, in April 2014, the team from Shepley Bulfinch returned and presented their recommendations in an open forum. You can watch the video of their presentation.

The recommendations support the library’s goals to offer more common spaces for study; agile, responsive access to a broader and deeper collection of quality information; and a learning environment that blends peer support, expert personal help, and convenient, responsive digital tools. These architectural and programmatic goals also fit into the larger campus ecology and master planning, which is in full swing this academic year.

The new phase

Last week, Anna Gold, dean of library services, presented the three big ideas that emerged from Shepley Bulfinch’s recommendations to President Jeffrey Armstrong and other campus leaders. The three big ideas are, 1) 24-Hour Peer-to-Peer Learning Center, 2) Reading Room in the Sky and 3)  Innovations in Digital Expression, Access and Scholarship (IDEAS). Read more about the vision for these spaces on our website or on a one-page PDF.

The recommendations include:

  • 445 additional student seats
  • 16 additional group study rooms
  • 24-hour space adds 10,000+ square feet
  • Hub for peer-to-peer learning
  • Digital scholarship center
  • Climate control for rare collections
  • Inspiring event and exhibit space

With a vision and budget in hand, we enter the next phase to make these programs and spaces a reality. It’s exciting for us and for the Cal Poly community. Thank you, for your input and collaboration!

*Building Program Committee: Senior VP, Student Affairs and Executive Director University Housing, Preston Allen; Program Review Librarian, David Beales (co-chair); Student Library Advisory Council and ASI Representative, Andrew Bui; Associate University Librarian for Academic Services, Sarah F. Cohen; Office of the Provost, Charlie Crabb; Office of the Provost, Chris Dicus; University Librarian, Anna Gold; Special Collections and Archives Director, Jessica Holada; Information Services Advancement, Eileen Joseph; Chief of Staff, Office of the President, Betsy Kinsley; Director, Library Information Technology, Dale Kohler; Communications and Public Programs Coordinator, Karen Lauritsen (co-chair), Associate Vice Provost, Information Technology Services, Johanna Madjedi; Head of Library Administrative Services, Cheryl S. May; Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology Director, Patrick O’Sullivan; Information Resources and Resource Sharing Director, Tim Strawn; and Digital Archivist, Zach Vowell.

Read more about the process in our Reimagining Kennedy Library blog series.