Cook Library will be under construction beginning in spring 2019 for technology upgrades and sleeker, sharper cosmetic appeal. During this time, the library will remain functional until the project wraps in the summer of 2021.
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Amy Miller, Ph.D., has been working on the project for three years and said the mission is to modernize Cook Library cosmetically and functionally.
“We really want to get more of the services and support that students use in the library and then also build out more spaces for students to collaborate, study together and work together,” Miller said. “The library needs a renovation, and we want to make sure that during the renovation we’re meeting the needs of students and making it look more like the libraries that are more cutting edge and have the best practices for students today.”
Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management Christopher Crenshaw, Ph.D., discussed the upgrades.
“For us, it’s a complex kind of web of project management. Where we are right now is in the design phases,” Crenshaw said.
“Our plan is for this to materialize in three phases. The first phase is the mechanical part,” Crenshaw said. “The university’s Academic Advisement Center which will be phase two. Then later will be phase three, the Bower Academic Center.”
The Bower Academic Center will house the Student-Athlete Enhancement Program to serve Southern Miss’s nearly 350 student-athletes. Although its primary audience is athletes, many of the amenities will be available for use to students of all disciplines during certain times. This will increase the number of available study rooms.
The Academic Advisement Center will be available for all students who have questions about anything related to their classes, their progression, changing a major and anything else advisement related for all 12 months of the year.
The university received $7 million from state legislature for necessary use around campus and will be appropriating a large amount towards the Cook Library renovation project, yet administrators have reached out for donors to alleviate the excess budget expenditures, namely for the Bower Academic Center, to help bring the university’s full-framed vision into fruition.
“We could certainly do a lot more if we had more money, but at the end of the day, I think, what comes together in this project when it’s all said and done is going to be a significant impact to student success and retention,” Crenshaw said.
Dean of University Libraries John Eye, Ph.D., said the services will improve student success.
“It’s going to be an improvement in a lot of ways. It will make Cook Library more of a central place to serve students in more ways than we already do,” Eye said. “I think we can accommodate things so that students will still be able to function as close to normal as possible, and as with any construction project the inconvenience will be well worth it because in the end, this place will be much more inviting and much more functional.
“We are going to have to be flexible, and we’re going to have to be patient. I think we have enough flexibility and enough spaces to where we can block off some and then move other services to another place on a temporary basis.”