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Feb 05 2013

We’re open!

By: David Hiscoe

The Hunt Library has now been open for a little over a month now–and the reality has been everything we dreamed it would be during all those years of planning.

It’s incredibly satisfying to walk past the group study rooms and see them packed, their video screens filled with student work in progress.  Or to pass the Idea Alcove and watch an engineering study session mapping out a project on the wall-sized whiteboards.  Or to see a crowd gathering around the displays in the iPearl Immersion Theater or exploring the tools in the Apple Technology Showcase. We hope you’ve had a chance to come over, either on one of our scheduled tours or just to walk through yourself and soak in the atmosphere in the new building.

The Hunt Story, told by our students

Most of all, don’t miss the photographs that students have been posting about their new library on My #HuntLibrary. We have received over 1,200 since we opened, almost every one obviously fueled with enthusiasm for a space that has moved them. And given the opportunity to tell “the story of the library of the future, written by you,” the NC State community has showered our Hunt Library homepage with Facebook, Twitter, and other comments, captured with the social media tool Storify.

Hunt Library media coverage

More traditional media has also been active in commenting on what the Hunt Library will mean for learning and research, both locally and globally:

  • The News & Observer ran a front page feature claiming that in bringing the “future to the present” the new NC State icon “may well be the most advanced library in the world.”  The paper’s Dec. 24 main editorial concluded that “there would be few arguments that the library is not the most advanced of its kind anywhere.”  A photo essay dominated the N&O’s local coverage on opening day.
  • The word went out nationally when an Associated Press article dubbing the Hunt Library as the “library of the future” was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express, the Stamford Advocate, the Greenwich Times, USA Today.com, AOL.com, and the Seattle Post Examiner, among many others.  A companion AP video and six minutes of footage went out to TV stations across the world.

Hunt Library news going forward

We cannot thank you enough for following the progress of the Hunt Library over the past several years on this blog—and for all your support as we geared up to make this dream come true.

There will, of course, continue to be great news about the new building as the rest of the world continues to learn about it.  But it is now part of the larger story of the NCSU Libraries in general.  So this will be our last post on Hunt Library Updates.  But we don’t want to lose touch, and we invite you to sign up for email updates on all our activities on the NCSU Libraries News blog.

By: David Hiscoe

What is unique about the Hunt Library is its conception of what a 21st-century learning environment should be.  It transitions from being a place you go to take away information in book form to a place that provides an intellectual home for you to deeply experience the knowledge that you are interacting with.  It encourages hands-on capabilities to take the knowledge that you might find in conventional libraries and apply it in creative, interactive, innovative ways to explore what knowledge can do. . . . NC State is unique in having access to such amazing technologies and spaces.

R. Michael Young, Professor of Computer Science, North Carolina State University


One couldn’t ask for a better statement of the vision behind the Hunt Library.  But Dr. Young was, in particular, talking about the five giant high-definition video display walls that will make the new library a hub for showcasing student and faculty work and encouraging research on large-scale visualization when it opens on January 2, 2013.  Here’s the full story:

By: David Hiscoe

It’s official.  There are now actual books in the Hunt Library!

In July we began loading over 1.5 million items into the bookBot.  The book move is, of course, another huge step toward making this building real and opening it on January 2, 2013.

But it’s also incredibly symbolic of the investment the people of North Carolina are making in the future success of our students and faculty. With the book move, we are, in fact, moving a large part of the institutional knowledge of NC State University to the Centennial Campus.

To celebrate this milestone, we’ve created a short video about passing that “torch” to the new library (only an Olympic Games theme would do this week).

Because a good part of the fun is seeing the NC State celebs who appear in the film, we are launching the video with a contest (open to the entire NC State community) to identify the NC State champions carrying the torch (actually Mark’s Handbook for Mechanical Engineers) over to the bookBot.  Try a shot for the gold on the Libraries’ Facebook page.

By: David Hiscoe

The building is now close enough to completion to start attracting the attention of the local press. Thanks to Executive Producer Lori Denberg and her team at abc11 Eyewitness News for this insightful piece on the promise of the Hunt Library (please excuse the commercial message at the beginning!):

By: David Hiscoe

This week I’ve been interviewing a group students who have just finished an innovative course co-taught by College of Design and Computer Science professors. The students’ task was to work together across several academic disciplines to help design the Hunt Library “experience.” This building, after all, is in many ways an unprecedented space–a library, for instance, where books are delivered by robots and where digital, virtual, and physical environments merge and blend in unique ways. Their job for the semester was to help us think through how our students and faculty could easily orient themselves in this new environment and quickly and naturally grasp what could be done in it.

One of the things that I took away is just how much less solitary their college work was from mine, done decades ago. I don’t know the exact statistics, but my sense is that probably one half of the projects that an average NC State student takes on in his or her classes is a collaborative project, preparing them for a work life in which successful employees are the ones who can orchestrate the talents of very divergent skills to solve a problem or create a product that no solitary worker could imagine, much less complete.

Commenting on how much he had loved a class filled with industrial designers, computer scientists, video game designers, electrical engineers, and story tellers, one graphic design student brought the idea home for me: “Having all those majors coming together under one roof and then having it work so perfectly, working with an actual project and client and then delivering even more than what they expected of me.  It was probably the greatest experience I’ve had so far in college.”

One key engine for this sort of experience is the group study room, the place where student teams can gather, ramp up creativity by bouncing ideas off each other, marshal all the technologies they need, and hammer out the work together.  And group study rooms are something that the NCSU Libraries is woefully short of to date. That is why there are 100 of them in the Hunt Library (several of which, btw, are still available as naming opportunities).  In the past month or so, we’ve shown the Hunt Library’s group study rooms to several student tour groups.  Here’s a sampling of their reactions:

By: David Hiscoe

It’s been great this spring to have a few students into the building and get their first impressions. Here’s just a taste of what they told us when it began to sink in that this building would be at their disposal in January.

By: David Hiscoe

Friends of the Library enjoy the sunset on the Skyline Terrace.

The annual Friends of the Library Spring Meeting is always a pleasure: a couple of minutes choosing new Board members and then a chance to hear a great speaker like Lee Smith, William Friday, or Haven Kimmel and spend a pleasant hour or so catching up with like-minded friends who love the NCSU Libraries.

This year the meeting reached new heights though–quite literally so, since most attendees ended the night eighty feet up in the air at the top of the Hunt Library, watching the sun set over Lake Raleigh from the Skyline Terrace.

Though we are still eight months away from opening, the Libraries was able to wrangle permission to hold what Chancellor Randy Woodson announced was the first official function to be hosted in the space.

It could not be more proper, he began the meeting by saying, that the first large group to meet in the building was the Friends of the Library: “you,” he told the audience, “decided–often decades ago–that NC State needed great libraries and then did the dreaming and the hard and persistent work to make it happen.  This is what you have created, and I hope you are proud of it.  You should be.”

After remarks from the Chancellor, Susan Nutter, and Craig Dykers, principal at Snøhetta, guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks and were led on tours by architects from Snøhetta and Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, the building’s executive architects.

On the Fourth Floor, overlooking the Library Grand Entrance Hall and Rain Garden Reading Lounge

Guests enjoy the open, light-filled areas of the Second Floor, still under construction.

Friends returning from a tour, descending the Monumental Stairs with Roman Seating in the foreground.

By: David Hiscoe

We’re still under construction, of course–still eight months to go before opening day.

But the Hunt Library has already made a substantial contribution to giving NC State students an education they could not get at any other university in the world.

This semester a combined group from the College of Design and the Department of Computer Science was turned loose to work with a digital palette the size of which they could only have dreamed of in the past, a prototype of the 21-foot-wide, high-definition video wall that will be the centerpiece of the Hunt Library’s Gaming Lab.

One group of students scoped, planned, and delivered a video game based on the essence of the Hunt Library experience.  NOL, a collaborative pursuit game, is designed to use real-time data delivered from the NCSU Libraries’ databases to allow a group of players to work together to guard the Vault of Knowledge, the mystical storage site in which the collected wisdom and secrets gained from the innate human capacity for curiosity and thirst for understanding are under attack.

Rendering of the Hunt Library's game-changing Gaming Lab

Another group of budding designers approached the Hunt Library as an unprecedented library space—one where the robotic bookBot book delivery system minimizes the need for book shelves, where large video walls and other technologies dominate space in a way that patrons have never experienced before, and where digital, virtual, and physical environments merge in unique ways. Using the newest strategies in graphic and interaction design and working with complex systems of information, the students developed strategies for how to orient users to the new environment.

The result, according to Professor Scott Townsend from the College of Design: “The experience provided a huge competitive advantage for my students. Anyone can future-cast and blue-sky scenarios for new hypothetical technologies and spaces.  But these NC State students now actually have real-life experience in developing for demanding and complex real-life opportunities. It will be a huge proof point of excellence on a resume.”

Walking into the Hunt Library for the first time, early in the class, senior design student Mandi Gelselman put it quite simply: “I feel like I’ve been handed the keys to the spaceship.”

The  Research Triangle Park is currently the East Coast hub of the video games industry in the United States,  supporting 1300 highly paid jobs in the area, many of them filled by NC State graduates.

Read the whole story at http://news.lib.ncsu.edu/2012/04/25/handing-out-the-keys-to-the-spaceship-changing-the-game-at-nc-state-university.

By: David Hiscoe

Every year the Spring Meeting of the Friends of the Library offers up something special—last year, for instance, it was a chance to hear William Friday talk with our then newly-minted chancellor, Randy Woodson.

The bookBot won'be loaded yet, but it's impressive nonetheless!

This year, it’s the chance to see a dream in the process of transforming into a physical reality.

This year’s Spring Meeting will actually be held in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, still under construction but close enough to completion that you’ll be able to get a real sense of why this building will soon be an iconic place at NC State.

The keynote speaker will be Craig Dykers, principal with Snøhetta, one of the hottest design firms in the world.  Snøhetta is the lead designer of the Hunt Library and is responsible, for example, for the National Opera House in Oslo, the redesign currently underway of New York’s Times Square, and the National September 11th Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center site.  Designers and architects from Snøhetta and pearce brinkley cease + lee–the project’s executive architects–will lead optional tours of the building.

The evening will also include cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres.

The program will take place April 20 in the Hunt Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus.  Remarks will start at 6:00 p.m., and cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres will begin at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $45 each for Friends members and guests and $70 for the general public.  NC State students are entitled to a Friends membership at no charge.

Please call 919-515-2841 for reservations by April 16–or email us at friends_of_the_library@ncsu.edu.

By: David Hiscoe

We’ve known from the beginning the Hunt Library would be:

  • an iconic space
  • a transformative space for NC State University
  • a library filled with technology-enriched spaces
  • nothing less than the best learning and collaborative space in the country.

But, if I can trust my obsessive Google-watching sources, you’ve only recently been able to actually see (as on the right) Hunt Library from space itself, as photographed from low-earth orbit by Google Maps.

Here on the the left (again from Google Maps),  you can clearly see Hunt Library anchoring Centennial Campus’ academic oval. That’s Lake Raleigh shimmering gloriously just below the new library.

And to the right below, the building shapes up as we get closer to the ground. 

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Below, just because it is a huge and wonderful space itself, here’s a bonus shot of the bookBot, in place now and ready to be loaded.