Master Space Plan – Draft

Vision & Goals:

We are embarking on a plan to reimagine, redesign, and renovate the DeWitt Wallace Library. Our community is invited to join us in rethinking this essential college asset as we endeavor to create a warm, welcoming and inclusive space that:

  • enhances the academic and scholarly pursuits of our community;
  • provides increased access to, and inspired discovery of, information and library collections, in all forms;
  • celebrates and elevates the written word, scholarship, and creative expressions;
  • preserves and promotes the history of the college; 
  • emphasizes the role of libraries and library staff in learning and information literacy;
  • leverages technology and technology staff to enhance scholarship, teaching, and production;
  • provides opportunity for creativity, exploration, content creation, and play; 
  • facilitates gatherings, meetings, and community building.

Through this project we will build on our historical and foundational strengths while evolving to support the new ways we explore, discover, share, create, convene, and collaborate. We aim to celebrate, elevate, and capitalize upon our role of advancing inquiry and scholarship, our inherent inclusion of all disciplines and interests of the Macalester community, and our essential contribution as an active community hub. The reimagined library will be a destination of distinction that supports the Macalester community in the shared goal of inspired learning and community building.

Library Future:

The Dewitt Wallace Library, and libraries in general, have undergone significant changes in the 21st century. In the thirty years since it was built, our library has evolved to include many functions and services not envisioned in the original design. We have experienced the introduction of the Internet, the subsequent rapid development of technology and personal computing, and exponential growth in access to information via digital providers, digital partnerships, open access resources, and near-instantaneous delivery of interlibrary loan materials. The definition of what the library is and what it offers has expanded to include spaces and resources for teaching, content creation, collaboration, exploration, community building, and more. All the while, access to print collections, primary source materials, historical documents, spaces for reading, and opportunity for quiet contemplation and study remain valuable and central to our mission.

We have made several incremental changes to our spaces over the years in an attempt to accommodate ever evolving needs. It is time to take a holistic approach to redesign our spaces and services. We intend to think broadly and consider ways in which the library will best support campus curricular and co-curricular needs well into the future. One area of focus will be a deeper collaboration with ITS as we seek to meet the college strategic priority to “Become a leader among liberal arts colleges in the use of technology to improve and broaden the reach of teaching and learning.” By strategically integrating aspects of our operations we will enhance our ability to support technology as it intersects with learning and scholarship.

We trust that our library staff experience and professional knowledge, along with thoughtful input from our partners and the community, and the skill of our architectural partners will create a design and a library that makes all feel a part of, and proud of, the DeWitt Wallace Library.

Redesign areas:


  • Redesign the library service desk, consultation spaces, and other points of service to increase effectiveness and navigability.
  • Ensure a sense of openness and welcome at service points.


  • Highlight and emphasize our exceptional collections.
  • Design ways to create a sense of inspiration, wonder, pride and delight in our collections.
  • Create spaces to curate and display our collections.
  • Gain space by better organizing collections and stacks.
  • Balance space needs for in-house collections with vast print and electronic collections that can be immediately accessed or delivered in record time.
  • Find solutions to address the lack of space for ever-expanding College Archives and Special Collections.

Teaching & Learning

  • Update teaching spaces for flexible and active learning environments to elevate our community’s information and digital literacy acumen, research and scholarship skills.
  • Offer improved spaces, lighting, and furnishings to best support teaching and learning, in both formal and informal settings, and between teachers and students as well as peer-to-peer.
  • Create formal and informal learning spaces for small, medium and large groups.

Research & Studying

  • Offer a variety of spaces, furnishings, and environments to support the many ways people use libraries for research and studying. This includes solo study, collaborative research, group study, and both silent and active environments as well as with and without technology.

Technology & Content Creation

  • Consider integrating staff, resources, and functions of the Digital Resource Center with operations in the library. Offer the campus improved access and service in the areas of digital scholarship, digital literacy, digital publishing, teaching with technology, use and checkout of equipment, and more.
  • Explore how spaces could be created to support Digital Liberal Arts as it continues to develop.
  • Bring the library up to date to support the introduction of current and future technologies. These span from the basics such as increased access to power in a building that predates laptop computers, to supporting increased interest in data visualization, 3D printing, virtual reality, and more.
  • Examine faculty needs for library spaces to support their teaching and research.
  • Consider ways to further integrate ITS Help Desk technology support in the library.
  • Design technology infrastructure to evolve over time.


  • Inspire a sense of belonging.
  • Enhance the use of the library as a vital community hub.
  • Ensure accessibility throughout the building and services.
  • Consider ways to improve and/or expand event space in the library to help meet the heavy demand on campus.
  • Create space to host exhibits.
  • Offer space for the community to curate or display collections, creative expressions, or scholarship of importance or significance to them.
  • Invest in art and aesthetics that reflect the diversity of those we serve.
  • Develop signage and wayfinding to help overall navigation.
  • Offer a coffee and beverage solution.


  • More deeply integrate ITS/Library resources, services, and expertise. Increase efficiency, clarity, and address overlapping or redundant services and spaces.
  • Consider improvements or adjustments for other library partners and residents (e.g. Jan Serie Center, Entrepreneurship) based on current and future needs.
  • Consider shared spaces and efficiencies among library building residents.


  • Bring library staff together to support the way we work today and will into the future.
  • Reimagine and improve office solutions for all who work in the library.
  • Create effective and technology-enriched small, medium, and large meetings spaces for both in-person and virtual meetings.
  • Create or improve lounge and kitchen space for staff who reside in the library