Skip to Main Content
Ekstrom Library

Ekstrom Library Third Floor Renovation Project: About the Project


We gathered the following information and data to help inform planning and design for the Ekstrom Library 3rd floor project. Part I provides highlights from the 2014 Assessment Report about aesthetics and architectural elements that informed the 1E project. We believe those findings remain valid and could helpfully inform design for the 3rd floor. Part I also includes a summary of findings from a post-renovation assessment and evaluation of the 1E project completed in early 2017. There are several relevant observations about furniture and spaces from that evaluation that could also inform the 3rd floor project.

Part II summarizes relevant data from the campus-wide surveys of undergraduate and graduate students that we conducted in the spring of 2018. Both general trends and specific comments are included to provide a context for expectations among those student groups. One could summarize expectations for both groups in one word: more. Both groups have strong desires for more and better seating, tables, study spaces and overall aesthetics.

Part I: Relevant findings that informed the 1E renovation and relevant findings/observations post-renovation

Relevant portions of the 2014 1E Assessment Report/Rationale Document

Observations from users

  • Lack of natural light
  • Lack of high quality artificial light
  • Lack of unity between East and West wings
  • Poor sight lines / chopped up spaces
  • Aesthetics: dated appearance (brick floor, colors, furniture)
  • Lack of recognition of broader campus achievements, research, student art
  • Shrinking footprint required for some collection formats and equipment

Proposed solutions

  • Removal of walls (increase light and sense of openness)
  • Modify East wing architectural elements to improve aesthetics and function and to harmonize with West wing
  • Relocate the Browsing Collection
  • Create and collocate zones of spaces
  • Identify and implement a breadth of user spaces (group & individual study, technology enriched, presentation practice)
  • Better sight lines / signage / wayfinding

Findings/Observations from the 2017 1E Post-Renovation Evaluation


  • Soft seating groupings of four tend to be occupied by single individuals
  • Soft seating near media viewing room rarely used. And usually by single persons

Individual Study

  • Study carrel users tend (80%) to have in headphones or noise cancellation headphones
  • Similarly when group behavior appears in quiet space, headphones appear more frequently


  • High Tops (4-up) frequently used by solo users
  • When 2 solo studiers are sharing a table, they tend to sit diagonally across from each other
  • North Windows Seating predominantly used by solo studiers
  • Inner booth seating tends to be solo use (and almost treated as a private space)
  • High top (2-up) almost always solo use
  • Users’ belongings take up so much space, there is not really room for a 2nd person’s belongings
  • When two people are working, they usually have tablets (with keyboards) or minilaptops (11”)


  • East lobby seating is not treated like a landing zone. Regularly has solo users (usually against elevator wall) set up for long term/in depth study
  • East elevator seating occasionally occupied by one or two individuals set up for long haul study/work
  • Low seating in north end rarely used; frequently very haphazardly arranged and not suggesting that it might be conducive to work or configurable for work

Part II: 2018 Benchmark Survey Data

Relevant Findings from the 2018 Benchmark Survey – Undergraduates

  • General satisfaction with individual, group and social space shows an increase from the 2014 and 2016 surveys
  • Approximately 74% of open-ended comments (1,120 total) mention space, atmosphere or aesthetics of space, and furnishings
  • Word frequencies and themes from open-ended comments (16,500 total words/1,882 unique words):
Word Frequencies and Themes: Undergraduate Students
Word No. of mentions* Dominant Themes Notable Comments
More 456 More quiet study space, group study space, studying space, individual study space
More comfortable seating, tables, chairs and furniture,
More outlets, lighting (upstairs), whiteboards, hours, staff availability, monitoring and enforcing quiet, outdoor seating, content (books and journals), bathrooms, food options, cleaning, etc.

Create more places to study, with about 24,000 students we need more places to study on campus.

i always feel like i am spending more of my time finding a place to sit then working on my homework. i also feel that there is a lot of noise and it is hard to concentrate.

Add more lighting to upstairs areas (3rd floor noted as dim)

Quiet 101 More quiet spaces, enforcement of quiet zones

I think there should be more designated QUIET areas.

I am a big fan of the quiet floors of the library. I am happy to say that they are kept almost completely quiet throughout the day, which makes for a very positive studying environment.

I've had quite a few phone interviews and video interviews and need somewhere quiet. I can't always count on finding a room (because only individuals can reserve them), and when i can they aren't always quiet.

I wish that the staff were a little more firm about enforcing quietness on the quiet library floors.

Tables 87

More tables: big, group, small, individual
More tables on 24 hr side
More tables with outlets
More cleaning of tables

More seating and comfortable tables and chairs.

More individual or 2 to 4 person tables that aren't cubicles. Get rid of cubicles because they are graffitied and unclean.

I always find garbage or dust accumulation all alone the floor under tables. I always have to wipe off the 4 tables before I use the, because they are never cleaned.

Update furniture with tables that have working electrical outlets.

I suggest making the furniture on the third and 4th floor a little more comfortable but keep the bigger tables!!!!

Furniture 68 Old, broken, dirty, uncomfortable, doesn't match, needs updating

I wish the furniture of the first floor matched with the upper levels of the library. the upstairs levels need a renovation and update.

A lot of the furniture is older and worn out (especially on the third floor)

old and dirty furniture in upper levels

Get better furniture–especially chairs that are comfortable to sit in for hours.

More comfortable chairs/seating, existing chairs are uncomfortable, dirty, don’t match, need updating

More comfy chairs and better collaborative tables would be great.

Put more of those chairs that are on the fourth floor with those real high backs and sides throughout the library as they are a great way to get privacy while studying and are very comfortable.

more of the high armed, cubby chairs

Those chairs in the classrooms have an awkward seating position.

I love the high–back chairs that scoot into the little study corrals. Helps me close everything off and focus. More of those

Perhaps add a reading room? It would be nice to have an extended lounge area on the third or fourth floors if Ekstrom that include just more chairs rather than desks.

The seats on the fourth floor are wobbly and uncomfortable.

There is not enough relaxed seating, but there is an excess of hard desk style chairs.

there has been a lack of seating especially in quieter areas

* Approx. 16,500 total words / 1882 unique words

Relevant Findings from the 2018 Benchmark Survey – Graduate Students

  • General satisfaction with individual, group and social space shows increases from the 2014 and 2016 surveys
  • Approximately 54% of open-ended comments (682 total) mention space, atmosphere or aesthetics of space, and furnishings
  • Word frequencies and themes from open-ended comments (12,264 total words/1,800 unique words):
Word Frequencies and Themes: Graduate Students
Word No. of mentions* Dominant Themes Notable Comments
More 182

More quiet study space, group study space, studying space, individual study space

More access to books, journals, articles – research content

I would like more quiet places to study.

I get more books from ILL or friends than I do our library. How is this an R1 institution when I can't even find the books and articles I need? 

Rooms 36 More. Private, quiet, and group.

More comfortable seating and more private rooms

wider ability to reserve quiet rooms for semester use by students

Open up those single rooms in the back on the third and fourth floor.

rooms where students can teach others freely without worrying about sound leaking out to others. Or a debate room where students can discuss any ideas

Old, broken, dirty, uncomfortable, needs updating

Furniture is awful and no where near enough outlets to plug in laptops.

It would be nice to have more furniture that accommodates an individual or a pair

Add regular–height tables and chairs for people with disabilities who cannot sit in bar–height seating.

Desk(s) 14  

It would be nice to have more individual study desks.

I like how many computers there are for students to work at, and the small wooden mobile desk surfaces for when you're sitting in a lounge chair.

Carrel(s) 7  

I appreciate having a long check–out time as a graduate student, and having a carrel is a godsend.

I find the entry areas to this library very congested, and have never tried to find a carrel for work, whereas my previous library use always involved extended use of carrels (with doors and windows).

The study carrels are always full and it is hard to find a quiet, clean space for studying.

I very much like using carrels in the library due to privacy. However, it seems as if a lot of them do not come with outlets. It would be nice to have carrels with outlets to be able to study more in private!