Karrmann Library Reopens after Renovations


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

After an extensive HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) renovation, the Elton S. Karrmann Library had a re-opening on Sept. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to introduce students to the library’s resources. Karrmann Library hosted a scavenger hunt, served baked goods and handed out school supplies such as post-it notes and water containers. 

The renovated Karrmann Library differs greatly from its version before it closed due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The majority of the building’s lights have been renovated with additional skylights installed. Executive Director Karen McLeer said the library is “noticeably brighter.”

The Karrmann Library’s most essential renovation was to improve its HVAC. Head Librarian Todd Roll said, “In the past, the staff literally had to move barn fans into the building to keep it cool … the circulation of either warm or cold air was problematic, and it’s much better now.” The airflow and temperature are now controlled throughout the building.

The goal of the library throughout the renovation process was to remain an available campus resource for students. “The library (re)opened last September, (and) did each floor separately so that parts of the building could remain open while other parts were closed.” Roll continued, “The second floor was the first floor that was done.” 

Karrmann Library keeps many resources in one place, which makes them more readily available to students. “It’s not uncommon for you to see that at other universities where you have a building that has all these different departments in it.” Additionally, Karrmann Library offers an Interlibrary loan. “Sometimes, students think if it’s not here, we can’t get it and that’s not true. We can get stuff throughout the world, really,” said Roll. 

Tutoring Services, the Writing Center and the Peer Mentor Center are located near Information Technology Services and the Testing Center on the first floor.

McLeer explained, “That brings those services (tutoring, writing and peer mentoring) into a space where students are already studying … It’s a more comfortable space.” 

McLeer commented on where the centers were previously. “The Markee was a temporary location for us last year. Two years ago, we were in Brigham Hall, and then we vacated that space … The renovation was the only thing that kept us from moving here (Karrmann Library) last year.” 

“The Student Center was wonderful, because we were visible.” However, McLeer added, “It was a smaller space, (and) it was a louder space.” These services have moved from the Markee to the Karrmann Library. McLeer said, “The tutors that I’ve talked to this week are really excited to be here.” 

Lockers are available for students to use, and are located on the first floor. Roll explained, “Students sometimes will have a ton of books in their backpack, and if they’re going to be in this part of campus, they’ll get a locker and just leave them there instead of taking them with them all the time.” 

There are also umbrellas available at Karrmann Library. “If you’re ever caught in the library and it’s raining out, we have umbrellas behind the front desk that you can check out,” said Roll. 

On the second floor, there is a designated Leisure Reading space. Near it are graphic novels, government publications and periodicals, e-journals, electronic books and an extensive array of databases. 

Additionally, on the second floor, there is a computer lab with a scanner and desktop magnifier available, along with charging ports. Near the computer lab, there hangs a Pictorial History of Karrmann Library about the origins of this Brutalist architecture style library for educational purposes.

The third floor is a quiet study area. Furnished, spacious lounges are distributed along the third floor with quieter, individual spaces made available as well. McLeer commented, “There are some really nice collaboration spaces here. There are also some really nice individual study spaces.” Roll added, “And you can book them.” 

Karrmann Library is decorated with works of art including paintings of nature, a wood carving tucked in plain sight, a quilted wall in the stairwell and large portraits of Platteville that serve as a grounding tool for students while their heads are buried in books about other times and places. The basement, however, has bare walls lined with classrooms and computer labs currently not in use. Roll confirmed that “there’s nothing scheduled in them.”