Room to Learn

Balconies from every floor look out over a forum designed for gatherings and performances on level one of the new library. Rendering courtesy of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Balconies from every floor look out over a forum designed for gatherings and performances on level one of the new library. Rendering courtesy of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

A great college needs a great library. But the definition of a great library is constantly evolving. Gone are the days of monuments to books. Today libraries are designed around the learning experience: increasingly collaborative, interdisciplinary and fueled by connections to both ancient materials and modern technology. That’s the vision behind Williams’ $80 million Sawyer Library, now under construction and slated to open in fall 2014.

The conversations that have taken place around the project have mirrored those happening on campuses across the country: What’s the right balance of stacks and study rooms? How much space should be given to carrels and the coffee bar? And what can be done to ensure that the new library will meet not just today’s needs but also those of the future?

At Williams, the answer to these questions, in the broadest possible terms, is flexibility. The new library “will support both individual and group study, offer a wide range of seating and provide access to resources from rare books to digital collections,” says College Librarian David Pilachowski. “Having all of this under one roof is what makes this project so compelling.”

“We know that for decades to come, a hybrid model of books and digital resources will prevail,” says Williams President Adam Falk. “But in reality we don’t know what libraries are going to be in 50 or 100 years.”

Read more about the vision behind Williams’ new library in the March 2012 Williams Alumni Review. (For the text-only version, click here.)

And follow the progress of the library construction project here.