Library Renovation is Under Way
In an effort to enhance the intellectual center of campus, Occidental College is restoring the historic core of the Mary Norton Clapp Library—the Reading Room, the Jeffers Room, and adjoining Exhibition Hall—to encourage quiet study and reflective, thoughtful examination of traditional library materials.
The project serves a pair of overarching purposes: increasing student demand for study space and helping to reinforce Oxy’s commitment to interdisciplinary learning. The College received a lead gift of $1 million from The Ahmanson Foundation, whose generosity will be recognized in the official naming of The Ahmanson Reading Room. Other funding for the $1.5 million project comes from alumni and friends. Completion of the renovation is expected by May 2007.
Through the years, Occidental’s evolving needs for library space have altered architect Myron Hunt’s 1924 building in several ways. In 1971, parts of the old library wing were redecorated and the original periodicals browsing room was converted into a classroom and renamed the Jeffers Room in honor of poet and alumnus Robinson Jeffers, Class of 1905. In the 1980s, the original Reading Room was converted to house book stacks due to the growth of the library’s collections.
Through its two-year Dynamic Planning Process, the College identified the library as one of its institutional priorities for renovation. Specifically, the project will provide a variety of comfortable seats and study spaces; incorporate state-of-the-art information technologies while offering data ports and wireless Internet access; and renovate and expand gallery areas, creating new opportunities for display of faculty publications, student research, special collection items, and faculty/student artwork.
The library renovation is part of a 20-year College master plan that will guide future campus development. Historic preservation and sustainability are central to the effort. The distinctive Hunt architecture of the original campus buildings has been highlighted by the planners as a heritage to be preserved and enhanced. The plan identifies the library as the most important single building on campus and calls on its renovation as a priority project.