A new Library is coming to Georgia State

Georgia State University Library archivists are documenting experiences with the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

On Jan. 24, Dean of Libraries Jeff Steely sponsored an informational session for students, unveiling the university’s new plans for Library North and South. Partnering with design firm Pfeiffer Partners, the university is expecting to kick off construction in the next few years.

For the new plans, Pfeiffer asked for student and faculty feedback. They created a steering committee comprised of multiple student leaders such as SGA executive Markeesa Walker, graduate student Jeremy Land and Associate Provost for Graduate Programs Lisa Armistead, representing administration.

The representatives from Pfeiffer addressed a few challenges that they would need to overcome before the interior of the library can be renovated such as accommodating for the Courtland Street bridge construction. Despite the limited space, their goal is also to expand the library’s functionality to the greatest extent.

“The challenge here given the aging buildings and the land-locked site was to take a look holistically at what was happening outside the building and what was happening inside the building in terms of infrastructure,” said John Graham, the project manager at Pfeiffer.

Graham also has many exterior improvements to consider.

In the next few years, the courtyard between Library North and Sparks Hall will be lowered by one floor and converted into a green space. This means that the entire main entrance of the library will have to be lowered, allowing the architects at Pfeiffer to open up a new floor that will use the space for gathering spots for students to work on group projects or socialize.


The focus of the library itself is shifting from a book-oriented facility to a student-oriented one which functions to provide students access to more group learning opportunities, according to Gili Meerovitch, Pfeiffer’s interior designer and library specialist.

“Academic research libraries have been at this for more than a couple of decades, moving less used materials to offsite storage or managing how the collection is housed with creative ways to make room on campus for those activities,” Meerovitch said.

According to Meerovitch, “There’s a lack of space and lack of the right kind of space.”

She said that she observed some students struggling to find an area with an outlet or a space in which they could openly study with other students.

Pfeiffer also showcased a new room, the “Global Studio”, that they hope to include in Library North. This area will serve as a multipurpose room that allows students to watch presentations using its fold-out seating and will also allow the university to host banquets or parties.

One flaw that Pfeiffer wishes to address is a lack of natural lighting within the library. Design Principal Alberto Cavallero said that they will be installing “big windows that would allow daylight in and views outward as well.”

Cavallero also said that they want to open up a skylight above the central staircase at Library North to let natural light into the heart of the building and bring more life to the study environments.

The overall plan is divided into 16 different packages, such as ones that focus on certain floors or developing new facilities, like a graduate research station, which the university will be able to adopt throughout the construction process whenever finances and scheduling work the best. According to Graham, these packages are “standalone and most of them are not sequential so you could do any series of them depending on the current priorities. They can also be grouped.”

During a Q&A following the presentation, one of the individuals in the audience raised a concern about the cost. Pfeiffer was unable to give a clear answer, claiming that inflation would change the price too much to make a final statement on the overall cost. When asked about a range, they said that the final cost would be anywhere between $10 million and $100 million.

With construction not starting for another two or three years, the plan’s flexibility means that Georgia State could see a variety of different layouts and designs in the months to come.

Pfeiffer has had experience working on projects for other universities around the nation, including library renovations at the University of California and Colorado College.

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