SHU Rededicates Library
Following Extensive Renovation
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Sacred Heart University)
You might say Sacred Heart University has written a new chapter in its history with the recent completion of extensive renovations to the Ryan-Matura Library on its Fairfield campus at 5151 Park Avenue. Now a rededication ceremony has been scheduled for Wednesday, November 2 to officially introduce the revamped space to university members and the general public.
While the university was established in 1963, it was not until 1968 that the three-level approximately 50,000-square-foot library facility was completed on the campus. It was the first stand-alone library for any SHU facility, though there is a specialized adjunct library center for health professions on Cambridge Drive in Trumbull. That center houses materials and study space and is overseen by Librarian Jeffrey Orrico.
The Park Avenue library facility, which is adjacent to the university chapel and Science wing of the Academic building, has served the campus population well over the past four decades but was clearly due for upgrades and a facelift, according to Head Librarian Gavin Ferriby. He began his SHU tenure as an associate librarian in 2006 and was promoted in 2009. Ferriby oversees all librarian staff, services and collections, and represents the library to the wider community.
The year of Ferriby’s promotion, outside renovations to the library occurred, which included installation of new windows, external lighting, a new plaza, external water wall and several trees and other plantings. Until then, there had only been sporadic reorganizations and upgrades to the facility.
“It was very old, worn and outmoded,” said Ferriby about the library prior to the latest overhaul, the planning of which began in November 2010 and renovations took place May to September 2011. “It needed substantial updating of all building systems.”
To that regard, the library has been decked out with a new roof, elevator, public restrooms, HVAC system and up-to-code sprinkler system. The first level was a key focus, receiving new carpeting, furniture, lighting, paneling and a new layout.
In fact, the first floor is now a model of modernity, transformed from an antiseptic 1960s cinder block environment to a visually rich space that invites study. New features include nine group study rooms outfitted with flatscreen monitors, circulation and reference desks, several small reader-friendly collections (new books, popular reading and graphic literature), a new Starbucks® Library Café, improved student seating, 16 computer workstations (eight iMac, eight PC), a 24-foot wide art wall with selections from the university’s collection, a water wall and administrative offices.
All of this is supported by 22 staff members, which include librarians for reference, technical services and digital needs, as well as an archivist.
On November 2, in a half hour rededication ceremony beginning at 2pm in the Starbucks Library Cafe, newly inaugurated SHU President John J. Petillo will offer remarks, joined by Ferriby who will introduce the team involved in the renovation effort: Architect Patrick Rose of Rose Tiso of Fairfield, General Contractor Turner Construction and Marc Izzo, the director of university construction and primary overseer of the renovation for the university. A reception, with beverages and small snacks, will immediately follow.
“This is the first step of several renovations for the library, that will better serve our users for decades to come,” Ferriby said.