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Kenyon College

Chalmers Library

Anchoring Kenyon's new west quad and the college's mission.

Kenyon College’s Strategic Plan identified the evolving role of the academic library as critical element in fulfilling the institution's overall mission. Kenyon’s library facilities were not optimized for learning and were at their physical limits. That coupled with increasing visitor counts and the changing role of the library lead to a feasibility study to determine the best option to deliver a 21st century library to the campus. After exploring a renovate-and-expand option versus new construction it was determined that new construction would better serve the College’s goals.

The new Chalmers Library is located on a pre‐existing site in the heart of campus. The LEED Gold building includes an underground garage that serves the library and three nearby buildings. The green roof, previously a parking lot, of the underground garage creates a new West Quad of green space for students to enjoy. A unique feature of the project is a storm water management system that collects rainwater in a 116,000‐gallon underground cistern and then uses the water to irrigate the water‐efficient landscaping on the West Quad.

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Designed for student academic and post-graduate success.

To optimize student outcomes, the library serves as home to the majority of campus student support services, taking advantage of the foundational opportunity to support student success. The library is a one-stop shop for students to access staff and resources to help them navigate their educational and career paths. Whether it is refining the topic of a paper, discussing course selection options, setting or changing majors, or exploring experiential learning opportunities abroad, the library is the place to find help.

Campus partners in the library include the registrar, advising, college counseling, writing center and student accessibility support services.


Innovative teaching and engaged learning.

Library services greet students on the entry‐level, student spaces are spread throughout the light‐filled floors, and the print collection resources are readily accessible on two lower levels. Near the quad entrance the Bulmash Exhibition Hall displays campus-wide student and faculty exhibitions and those from Special Collections and Archives. Students engage in an immersive experience using the primary resources available in Kenyon’s archives and special collections in a dedicated classroom - a technology-rich humanities lab. The instruction and programs are usually a collaboration between librarians and faculty.

Innovative learning on campus is enhanced with two sandbox spaces, one for technology and one for teaching, which help students and faculty explore innovative technology and teaching practices; and a digital commons provides the space and tools for students to learn new technologies and showcase their work.

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Aspirational iconic library space and adaptability for the future.

Views into and out of the Carver Reading Room, open 24 hours a day, connect the library to Kenyon's historic Middle Path, which is the beautiful tree-lined organizing campus landscape that is the unique signature of the college. An artist's design in the skylight glass over the Winkler Atrium imparts dappled and ever-changing color patterns onto the surfaces below. These spaces are aspirational and elevate the student experience.

The library's design strikes a balance between purpose-built spaces that create a strong sense of place and the need for aspects of the design to be future adaptable in response to changing needs. Strategies employed for flexibility include digital room signs and schedule management system to further opportunities for sharing, modular room sizes that can serve multiple uses, and the use of furnishings that can be moved or repurposed as programs change.

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