January 17, 2006

Case Western Reserve University School of Law completes library renovation

Library adds group study rooms, natural lighting to become more user-friendly

The Case Western Reserve University School of Law's library has gone from being largely a "warehouse for books" to a place where students enjoy coming to read, study, and learn from each other.

The library recently completed a $5.5 million renovation designed to create more open space and make it more inviting to students. It has also been renamed the Judge Ben C. Green Law Library in honor of a $2 million gift from the family of the late Judge Ben C. Green, a 1930 graduate of the law school and distinguished federal judge.

Gerald Korngold, dean and McCurdy Professor of Law, said, "The renovated library provides our students with a state-of-the-art facility for research and learning, and represents a substantial enhancement to our students' educational experience. We are especially grateful to the Green family for the generous gift that made this project possible."

Kathleen Carrick, library director, said "When it was originally built the library was meant to be a warehouse for books and was not particularly user-friendly. Since then libraries have evolved to be places where students should want to come and exchange ideas. That's what we've tried to accomplish with this renovation."

Among the physical changes to the library have been:

  • Reducing the height of the stacks on the main floor so as to allow in more natural light
  • Creating a second reading area on the first floor and creating three reading rooms on the third floor as well as two additional lounge study areas
  • Moving the library's service desk further back from the main entrance to enhance patron services and installing card-swipe entrance barriers
  • Redesigning the front entrance to the library with lounge seating
  • Creating eight group study rooms on the third floor, including study rooms with technology access
  • Adding lighting to the stacks on the third floor
  • Enlarging windows on the third floor to allow in more natural light
  • Creating a more spacious and updated computer lab on the third floor
  • Enhancing the existing computer classroom on the third floor
  • Creating a reading area in the basement's reading room, named on behalf of federal judge Charles A. Richey, a 1948 graduate of the law school
  • Wiring and enlarging carrels for computer use

The library's volume count remains the same as before the renovation at 301,659, said Rob Myers, manager of serials and collections access. Of that total, 75,686 are in an off-site storage facility. "These volumes are still accessible to our students and can be retrieved with a couple of days' notice," Myers said. "In addition, we have 100,174 volume equivalents in microfiche. The microfiche collection was consolidated and relocated to new built-in cabinets within the law library as part of the renovation."

Students like the changes. "I think it looks very nice. It's much more user-friendly," said Carin Cozza, a third-year student. "The study rooms are definitely a wonderful addition."

Mark Pavkov, a second-year student, said, "It's definitely a lot better than what we had previously. It's a lot easier to meet for study groups, and the computer labs are a lot easier to use."

In addition to the physical changes, Carrick said, the law librarians are taking a more active role in helping students understand how to make best use of the library's resources. Three librarians are instructors in the law school's CaseArc Integrated Lawyering Skills program, the law school's ground-breaking program for integrating legal theory and lawyering skills.

The law librarians have also introduced "Personal Research Consultations," a program of one-on-one meetings for students, in which librarians show students how to locate resources for specific topics or projects.

The renovation is the first major enhancement to the library since 1971, when the law school's current home was built. "It was time to bring the library into the 21st century," Carrick said. "We're very proud of what we've accomplished with this project."

For more information: Jeff Bendix 216-368-6070.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, January 17, 2006 10:22 AM | News Topics: Alumni, Philanthropy, School of Law

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