Perhaps even more impressive than the technology itself, was the planning process that brought it about. They knew they wanted to do something that had never been done before. They blew right through traditional percentages allocated to media and infrastructure. They received no additional funding for staffing of this 220,000 sq ft building. Yet they let none of that stop them as they cajoled, persuaded, inspired, partnered, and used every creative funding technique heretofore known, and then some, to realize their dream. And realize it, they did.
I was most impressed by how well they know their patrons. Engineering and the other disciplines for which NC State is known are all about technology. They wanted to create a library that goes beyond “learning spaces” and create a building that is a research tool itself. Rather than traditional libraries that collect the products of scholarship, they wanted to be involved in the research process right from the beginning so they created spaces where faculty and graduate students could experience what they were trying to create, as they created it. That is good stuff.
I was struck by the clarity of their overall mission, to position the library as a competitive advantage to the university. That is as clear and unifying to them as our “helping our students, faculty and staff succeed” is to ZSR. And yet, I’m still trying to decide how much of this would be transferrable to WFU and ZSR. We are such a different institution. If the Hunt Library were brought to Wake Forest, it would look like a space ship had landed. That is neither good nor bad, just profoundly different.