Hundreds of students, faculty, community members and dignitaries attended the grand opening ceremony for the newly renovated UCSB Library Wednesday afternoon.
The main ceremony was held on the library’s front steps and began with an opening dance and drum piece by students from the Theater & Dance Department and Music Department.
Following the performance, Head Librarian Denise Stephens spoke of the library’s central role in UCSB history, noting that the library was the original building constructed on Santa Barbara’s campus in 1954.
“The UCSB library, from its beginning, was meant to be the physical and geographical center of UCSB,” Stephens said.
Stephens said the library renovation focused on technological and educational innovations as well as creating more student and faculty study space.
“More than just a renovation of outdated buildings, we began a reimagining of what resource services could be,” Stephens said. “[It has] bright inspiring resource galleries which provide spaces to study and think … and a [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certified building which addresses the environmental focus of our campus and of our time.”
Associated Students President Jimmy Villarreal said the library is an “essential” part of UCSB student life.
“UCSB offers so many different experiences and opportunities that it is hard to exactly define what it means to be a Gaucho, but there is nothing more familiar to every student here than heading to the library to work on a paper or study for an exam,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal praised the addition of 1,800 new electrical outlets during the renovation and announced that the UCSB Library’s Learning Commons would be the recipient of the 2016 Senior Class Gift. The gift will come in the form of a combination of high tech study resources including a dedicated 3-D printer.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang highlighted the importance of libraries on campuses, saying the UCSB Library receives over 1.5 million visits a year.
“As a hub of information, a library is a key component of inspiring original thought, creativity and communication,” Yang said. “As we celebrate the opening of this phenomenal building, let us also celebrate the bright future it represents for our campus.”
Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall said that it was “important this ceremony is being held at the ‘Paseo.’”
“This passage is not a corridor, it’s a vital artery in the heart of the campus,” Marshall said.
Marshall finished on a more personal note, focusing on the library’s role in students’ lives and what it symbolizes to an academic community.
“The library remains a place of learning and teaching, the crossroads of tradition and innovation, a laboratory of discovery and reinvention,” Marshall said. “Our new library offers a safe refuge space for quiet study and contemplation. It’s a place to lose oneself and to find oneself alongside others.”
Following Marshall’s speech, representatives from State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams’ offices presented Yang and Stephens with a plaque commemorating the opening of the renovated library.
Aaron Jones, Associated Students advisor and Graduate Student Association president, said current U.S. culture celebrates the addictions of money, power and prestige and instead invited all in attendance to celebrate the addiction to truth.
“I have chosen this opportunity to invite you all to share a different type of addiction, something we can all be addicted to and not be ashamed of,” Jones said. “The addiction to truth, the addiction to the acquisition of knowledge, the addiction to finding our own individual answers to questions posed in the classroom and throughout our daily lives. That addiction, that quest, is what our newly renovated library inspires me to share with you.”
Following Jones’ speech, Yang cut a ceremonial ribbon and welcomed all in attendance to come explore the space while musical and dance groups performed throughout the library.
Associate Dean of Student Life and Activities Katya Armistead said she wants to try out every chair in the building.
“The chairs are amazing; I’ve sat on four different types so far, so it’s really fun to check out all of them,” Armistead said. “There’s some tall stools, there’s some that are kinda like arm chairs, and then, [check] out these chairs in the training room, they contour to your body very nicely.”
Armistead said she is already in love with the new library addition, although she is worried it may still be too small for the hordes of students who come to study.
“I love how the entrance is so grand and inviting. To me it says ‘Come in,’” Armistead said. “I think it’s a beautiful, beautiful space. I’m still worried it’s still not big enough though.”
A version of this story appeared on p. 3 of the Thursday, Jan. 14 issue of the Daily Nexus.