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New doors open to Hayden Library

On Arizona State University’s most populous campus, a welcome gift has arrived for Sun Devils on the first day of the spring semester — a sleek, new, state-of-the-art library.

Capping off a $90 million renovation, ASU’s Hayden Library, originally built in 1966, has been reinvented and reopened for the 21st century, with an eye toward maximum accessibility, engagement and support for the university’s growing student population.

Hayden Library’s revamped five-story tower, which sits at the center of ASU’s Tempe campus, now features nearly double the student space, enhanced study areas, community-driven book collections, two reading rooms, a variety of research services and interdisciplinary learning labs, and an entire floor devoted to innovation.

Spectacular campus views and abundant natural light, courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows and the Arizona sun, come as a bonus, says University Librarian Jim O’Donnell.

“Hayden Library has been the engine of intellectual discovery for generations of Sun Devils,” said O’Donnell, who is a professor in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. “We just turbocharged it for a new generation.”

While many of Hayden’s iconic midcentury design elements remain, there are some wonderful additions too, including a gold staircase — a nod to Sun Devil spirit — and a welcome mural honoring indigenous cultures, directed by Wanda Dalla Costa, an architect and professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

There are hallways that literally sparkle.

“Everything about Hayden is meant to make students feel at home and comfortable and supported — so it can be the place where they can reach higher, go farther and surprise themselves with the success they’re capable of,” said O’Donnell.

Following the 22-month construction and closure of Hayden tower, perhaps the most obvious indication of the library’s reinvention can be seen in its wide and welcoming plaza and above-ground entryways — a striking departure from the underground entrance that has been used solely since 1989.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by two large and stately reading rooms, designed to draw attention and provide greater access to the ASU Library’s Distinctive Collections, encompassing millions of primary source materials, rare and unique objects spanning centuries.

Community-selected materials focused on the peoples and places of the Southwest will be more visible than before, showcased in library spaces such as the Luhrs Arizona Reading Room, the Labriola National American Indian Data Center and the Community-Driven Archives.

Although the dust may still be settling in Hayden Library, one thing is clear: The books are back.

It took approximately 20 days, 30 truckloads and 9,000 new shelves to bring the books back to Hayden — along with four years of careful planning for how those books would be displayed, curated and delivered, and how they would best serve the university community.

Now, over 30 different collections are on the shelves and ready for exploration.

"Our team employed a community-centered and data-informed approach to designing the collections for Hayden Library," said Lorrie McAllister, associate university librarian for collections services and strategy, who leads the ASU Library’s Future of Print initiative.

With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this three-year initiative to reinvent the future of print for ASU explores the interests, needs and expectations of 21st-century academic library users.

"We are grateful for the chance to experiment and activate our open stacks as opportunities for engagement and inquiry," McAllister said.

In 2017, McAllister co-authored a widely shared white paper on emerging design practices that is now shaping the curation and delivery of academic library print collections at ASU at a time when campus space and digital resources are in high demand.

As a result of this work, ASU students, faculty and staff will encounter a series of newly featured collections on nearly every floor of Hayden Library — collections such as "Untold Histories" and "The Southwest Before the U.S."

These collections and others like them have been selected and curated in collaboration with ASU students and faculty. Each collection is university-inspired and strategic in design, driven by data and reader interest.

"A great example of how the 'Future of Print' project has influenced the Hayden collections design is our new Sun Devil Reads collection, designed with students and in-person browsing in mind, organized by themes and with lots of eye-catching cover art," McAllister added.

While many books have returned to Hayden Library and are being showcased in new and inviting ways, those books that have not returned to Hayden will be housed at Noble Library or in the ASU Library’s high-density collection at the Polytechnic campus, where they will be available for fast-turnaround delivery.

Last semester, the ASU Library began offering book delivery and self-service lockers for the quick and convenient pickup and return of library materials.

Read the full story on ASU Now.