October 20, 2008
Welcome to an “information crossroad” for the 21st Century.
After months of renovations and updates to its heavily used
third and fourth floors, the St. Augustine Hall Library re-opened
with more quality space, seating and high-tech features that make
the facility a “total learning resource” for the University
The $14 million upgrade transforms St. Augustine Hall—the heart
of St. John’s 1.7 million-volume library system—into a high-tech
intellectual resource that combines all the advantages of a
traditional and virtual information center.
To formally introduce the campus community to the full scope of
the renovations, the Library will hold multiple tours of the
facility every day for the next week.
A Profound Transformation
Lighter, brighter and more inviting, the building’s new interior is
designed to provide maximum service to students and faculty.
Centralized “library services” desks allow students to more
efficiently identify and locate the information they need. New
computer workstations and significantly increased seating vastly
improve access to online and print resources.
“These improvements represent a profound transformation in the
way our Library serves faculty and students,” said James P. Pellow,
Ed.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at
“Academic libraries in the 21st century face two complementary
challenges,” Dr. Pellow explained. “They need to create more
comfortable and efficient space for a collaborative environment
with better use of paper-based materials. They also have to offer
improved access to the vast and constantly growing information
resources available online.
Students and faculty see the difference the moment they step
from the elevators and stairwells into the third and fourth-floor
lobbies. On the third floor, a central Library Services Desk
consolidates check-out, inter-library loans, circulations and
reference. Students who need extra assistance can meet privately
with a librarian in an adjacent consultation room.
“The first thing patrons will notice is that everything is
totally different,” said Theresa M. Maylone, University Librarian.
“We wanted to get entirely away from any old thinking.”
Comfort and Sustainability
The changes are especially evident when students step into the
wings where they do most of their research. Redesigned for maximum
light, comfort and efficiency, the chairs, tables and lower
bookshelves now stand alongside windows, with taller bookshelves at
the outer edges of each room.
The seating is significantly increased, with a total of 500 new
seats on the third and fourth floors. High-end, hardwood desks and
chairs with brass lamps provide ample study space. Along with new
study carrels, patrons also can use seating areas with softer
chairs and sofas distributed throughout each wing.
In addition, there are 12 brand-new computer workstations in
each wing of the third and fourth floors. Each wing also has a
dedicated printer room with at least one printer and copier.
Twenty-seven additional computer workstations remain available on
the first floor.
Along with new restrooms, including designated, unisex restrooms
for physically challenged visitors, each floor has multi-use
conference rooms equipped with computer-ready Proxima projectors.
New features include private work rooms that faculty can “rent” on
a rotating basis.
Reflecting St. John’s institutional commitment to
sustainability, a high-efficiency lighting system includes ceiling
sensors that turn lights on or off when patrons enter or leave each
room. The new design also automatically dims artificial lighting by
making maximum use of daylight.
In many instances, St. John’s specified new materials with an
environmental value. For example, the new acoustic wall panels
behind reference desks have a fabric wrap made from recycled
materials. The two systems of compact shelving are made of 100
percent recycled metal. And the majority of the new carpet tiles
contain recycled materials.
The renovations are part of St. John’s multi-year Campus Master
Plan to better serve students and faculty, notes Dr. Pellow. They
also are the first step in a continuing re-design of the Library
consistent with trends in higher education.
For example, current plans call for a relocation to St.
Augustine’s second floor of faculty from St. John’s College and the
College of Professional Studies. Also planned is the creation of a
Along with the Library renovations, a number of new projects are
transforming the Queens campus. For example, construction continues
on a sprawling new University/Academic Center. This fall, new
townhouse-style residences opened for upperclassmen. In addition,
classrooms have been upgraded across the campus.
We invite you to learn more about continuing enhancements to St.
John’s campus facilities.