Boca campus library in need of money for renovations

Its budget hasn’t changed in the last decade.


A renovation of the library has been proposed, setting aside $40 million to carry out repairs. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Joshua Katz and Hope Dean

Editor’s note | Oct. 25, 10:34 a.m. This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the library budget isn’t used for renovations,  the location of repurposed areas, and the Muslim Student Association’s sponsorship of the Serenity Room.

The Boca campus Wimberly Library was built 54 years ago, and it’s starting to show.

The building needs a new roof, windows, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and electrical systems — all of which haven’t been updated since its construction in 1964, library Director of External Relations RJ Stamper said. But the renovation money hasn’t been provided, as the library’s $8 million budget is spent on books, salaries, access to online journals, and general maintenance, Dean of Libraries Carol Hixson said.

“[Wimberly Library] is the third oldest building on campus,” she said. If she could, she would “knock the whole building down and start from scratch.” 

In recent years, FAU has had to think of cheaper ways to deal with the library’s structural issues.

Instead of being replaced, the windows were repaired with a film to lock out moisture. And since many outlets throughout the building are no longer functioning, electronic charging stations have been installed, Hixson said.

The library sees an average of 120,000-130,000 visits from students, faculty, and community members monthly, according to Stamper. An online spring 2018 survey found that 91 percent of students use it as their primary library, and study there just as much as they do at home.

For the future, a current project request to renovate the Wimberly Library is in the works, setting aside more than $40 million for the task, FAU’s five-year “Capital Improvement Plan” currently states. The plan details proposed changes to on-campus buildings over the next several years.

“Even with recent minor renovations, the [library] facility is in dire need for maintenance to address building envelope, outdated building systems and integration of new technology,” the plan says. “The proposed renovation will not only address both critical and deferred maintenance [but] it will also repurpose the existing facility to address the changing technology and maximize the building square footage to address current programmatic needs.”

In the meantime, Hixson said she and her staff have come up with alternative ways to work with what the building already has.

Recent internal renovations over the past three years are a result of strategically saved money and repurposing already existing rooms.

These include the new opening of the fifth floor that Hixson received $250,000 from the university to refurbish in her first year, the installment of security gates at the library’s entrance, the introduction of more study rooms, and the replacement of computers in three labs and all group study rooms. On top of this, rooms have been repurposed for a graduate student lounge on the second floor, a first floor lab space for geographic information systems technology, and a College of Arts and Letters lab space on the second floor.

The fourth floor’s quiet study area is also currently under renovation to replace the flooring and add more seating, comfortable furniture, power outlets, and natural light, she said.

Some projects completed this year were the Serenity Room on the third floor and the Diversity Burrow in the lobby.

The Serenity Room was created as a place for anyone to reflect, pray, or meditate, and was initiated by the on-campus Muslim Student Association. To create the Diversity Burrow, the circulation desk was moved next to the lobby stairs with leftover budget money, and Hixson donated her own furniture for the area. The lounge space gives students the chance to relax and read books on people from different cultural backgrounds.

As for what she can work on right now with the money she has, Hixson’s efforts include a research center for undergraduates, graduates, and professors to come together and “cross pollinate” ideas, she said. This is a joint proposal with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry, the Division of Research, and the Graduate College. If completed, it would be on the first floor. 

Joshua Katz is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].

Hope Dean is the managing editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].