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Home > Library Adds Space, Updates Academic Tools

Library Adds Space, Updates Academic Tools

January 4th, 2011

By Sarah Pride and Eric Burke (adapted from PHC Herald, 10/29/10). Pictures by Art Cox.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

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Library staircase construction in Founder's Hall, top floor

Students returning to campus for the spring 2011 semester will discover a new staircase connecting the top-level Library Study Center in Founder’s Hall with the library’s bottom-floor volumes, references and resources. Visitors to Founder’s Hall will, likewise, encounter a new main entrance to a fully integrated, two-floor library.

For years prior to the opening of the Barbara Hodel Student Life Center in fall of 2009, the new library space in Founder’s Hall served as the campus’s dining hall and social center, a haven for late-night study sessions. This past year, in anticipation of the expansion, it was transformed into the “Library Study Center,” its former sturdy dining tables and several new cubicles providing a spacious work area. The new staircase is a much-anticipated addition, connecting the study center with the library’s bottom-floor book collections and reference desks, eliminating the need to travel a roundabout route between floors.

“The new staircase is proceeding on schedule, and will be done before the start of classes,” reports Vice President for Campus Services Earl Hall. “It will be beautiful and functional, and will tie the upper area with seating to the lower area with books. In addition, the upper area will be re-carpeted wall-to-wall.”

The library has this year benefitted from several other enhancements, such as a compact shelving system installed in the fall that provides more space for books. The library also expanded its online research sources.

Sara Pensgard, Director of the Library, said that these changes are part of a larger goal to serve the PHC campus.

Library staircase construction in Founder's Hall, bottom floor

“The library is the traditional heart of higher education, and providing the core of learning is our mission,” she said. “Here, everything that we add is through that lens. We are a support department, here to serve.”

One of the new online resources, the STRATFOR global intelligence database, provides up-to-date news and information of interest to Strategic Intelligence and International Relations majors. Another recent addition, the NAXOS music library, offers an online collection of music—mostly classical, with a sampling of other genres.

Both of these databases were added at the request of campus faculty. Pensgard said that she is asking the faculty to suggest databases for which they see a need.

More changes are still to come: the library will be adding another 3,000 to 4,000 ebooks to the current collection, while it also seeks to expand its physical collection. The staff hopes to also add more shelving downstairs, which would mean moving computers and study tables upstairs. These changes, said Pensgard, would make the library’s total collection more easily accessible to the students and faculty.

Student reaction to the library additions has been positive. Tony Cavicchi was excited about the improvements.

“They’ve made tremendous strides,” he said. “With each student exploring a different area, it is important to have a big library. The expansion of housing, moving books in to the main shelves is really positive. It makes it easier to just browse for topics.”

Pensgard also emphasized some of the lesser-known tools already available to the students.

“If your professor uses ECollege, check out the library link in there; we may well have created a research guide, especially for the core classes,” she said. “The librarians are always open for project consultations, we’re happy to show you things that would help your research.”