The University Library is one of the only places on campus where, on any day and at almost any hour, a cross section of the UIC community is gathered for group projects, quiet study, research or catching up over coffee.
This crucial campus hub is continuing its outstanding track record of responding to users’ needs with plans for a 3,000-square-foot quiet study space well under way. The Circle Reading Room is being funded collaboratively, with the UIC Student Challenge matching every alumni donation to the project.
“UIC alumni and students all value a great education, hard work and a good challenge,” says alumnus Saad Jamil, who was president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) when the UIC Student Challenge was proposed. “And we have all faced a similar problem – finding a quiet place to study on campus.”
Just last year, the library opened the IDEA Commons in response to students’ needs for collaborative study, easily accessible technology and librarian expertise. Funding the initiative was a true partnership among students, faculty, staff and especially alumni and friends, who committed approximately $1.3 million in private donations. The project’s success is evident in the number of members of the UIC community who populate the space morning ‘til night, not to mention the two awards it received from the American Institute of Architects.
A fundraising partnership similar to the model that was used for the IDEA Commons is now being implemented for the Circle Reading Room. The UIC Student Challenge originated with the student Library/IT committee members agreeing to allocate some of their assessment to match alumni gifts, which will double the impact of donations.
This commitment caught Jim Petrzilka’s attention. “I remember on Circle Campus, the library was the only place you could go to study that was really quiet,” he says. Petrzilka is an alumnus and library board member. “I decided to give to the Circle Reading Room because students want to study there and are committed enough to contribute to it themselves. Seeing that involvement, along with my fond memories of the library from my Circle days, really affects me.”
The Circle Reading Room will pay tribute to the historic legacy of the Circle Campus through the careful display of important drawings, artifacts and memorabilia. It will serve as a haven for library patrons seeking a space for individual study, reflection and contemplation while balancing the IDEA Commons’ collaborative learning focus. It will also house the Silver Circle Awards, which are presented to phenomenal faculty as deemed by students, and host readings, special events and exhibits.
“The Library is central to the success of all students and faculty, so we manage our resources to meet, anticipate and respond to their varying needs,” says Mary Case, University Librarian. “It’s crucial to know what our users need and how to make the resources and spaces meet those needs.”
With the Circle Reading Room, the library will once again transform itself. And its anticipated mid-2014 completion will be just in time for the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Circle campus.