Exciting changes are taking place in the Oscar A. Silverman Library in Capen Hall.
The ways in which students learn, classes are taught, and information is shared are very different today than in decades past. To ensure that the UB Libraries continue to advance teaching, learning and research in the digital age, exciting changes are taking place in the Oscar A. Silverman Library in Capen Hall on UB’s North Campus. Designed to accommodate the different ways students and faculty work, study and research in the 21st century, these changes will transform Silverman Library into a dynamic intellectual hub that brings people together from across the university, encourages us to explore new ideas, and inspires us to create new knowledge for today and tomorrow.
For more than four decades, UB students have flocked to Silverman Library, and it remains one of the university’s most heavily-utilized study and research spaces. Fondly referred to as “Club Capen” by generations of UB undergraduates, Silverman Library is increasingly a social learning space where students gather to conduct their academic work in the context of interdisciplinary collaborations. Tech-savvy UB students turn to Silverman Library to support their digital research needs, and to provide them with convenient, comfortable learning and collaboration spaces where they can work cooperatively with peers and with faculty on a broad range of academic initiatives.
To meet the changing needs of our users, Silverman Library is in the midst of an extensive renovation project as part of “The Heart of the Campus,” UB’s multi-phase initiative to enhance the student experience by providing students with opportunities to learn everywhere on campus – not just in lecture halls and labs. Buffalo-based Architectural Resources is leading the Silverman renovation team, which also includes academic library design specialists from Boston’s Perry Dean Rogers, along with other experts in creating sustainable, beautiful spaces for colleges and universities.
Phase One of the renovation project involves a complete redesign of Silverman’s third floor, a vast area encompassing more than 57,000 square feet. Closed for nearly two years so that construction could move forward, excitement is growing as the grand reopening is set for Fall 2016. This new space promises to be a vibrant, flexible, technology-rich destination featuring an abundance of new common areas, group work spaces, and support for new interactive digital technologies. “Silverman will be a gathering place where people come to create knowledge as well as absorb knowledge,” says H. Austin Booth, Vice Provost for University Libraries. “It will be a place where teaching, learning and collaboration of all types take place, reflecting UB’s excellence as a premier public research university.”
Using the concept of neighborhoods as a design theme, the architects have reimagined and reinvented Silverman’s third floor, creating distinctive areas for individual study, group collaboration, media creation, and informal gatherings. The existing high ceilings and windows have been used to full advantage, providing large, open vistas filled with abundant natural light. Glass partitions, along with new furniture, flooring and fresh interior finishes, enhance the feeling of openness, while flexible design elements, including moveable furniture and walls, and adaptable technologies, anticipate the needs of future university students. Robust, seamless wireless connectivity throughout the renovated space makes it easy for library users to quickly plug in, charge and use laptops, tablets and other mobile devices. Flexible, high-tech classrooms enable UB faculty to experiment with new instructional methods and give undergraduate, graduate and professional students the opportunity to work with new digital tools. Events, workshops, meetings and exhibitions can take place in a beautiful, inspiring environment that encourages creativity, imagination, and innovation.
Silverman Library – Third Floor Renovation Highlights:
- An elegant, light-filled, traditional “Grand Reading Room,” featuring rich oak woodwork and archival images of UB life.
- Spacious, technology-enabled group study rooms with writeable walls and places for students to plug in and display from their own devices to collaborate on projects.
- Two large, high-tech classrooms, offering librarians and other faculty the opportunity to try out new ideas and involve students in designing their own learning.
- “One-Button” recording studios where students can create, edit and view media productions.
- Space for university and community groups to host lectures, exhibitions, meetings and other events.
- A café where students, faculty, staff and visitors can meet with friends and colleagues, enjoy a cup of coffee, purchase a snack or salad, or simply relax and engage in conversation.
- Comfortable, informal seating areas for individual and group study.
- Desktop computers in open spaces and mobile devices to check out for in-library use in other areas.
- A consultation room where librarians and staff can meet one-on-one with students or faculty members to provide individual assistance with research or media.
- Expert subject librarians and staff to help students with all aspects of their research, media and technology needs.
- A multimedia center with state-of-the-art facilities for media creation and a top-notch collection of digital media materials.
When fully operational, the reconfigured Silverman Library will be open 24/7 during the academic year, providing a safe, comfortable place for UB students to study day and night. And this is just the beginning! Plans for Phase Two include a new second floor entrance to Silverman Library and the development of Makerspace areas where students and faculty from all disciplines can experiment with cutting-edge digital tools, including 3-D printing, laser cutters and scanners, and virtual reality technologies. A state-of-the-art visualization lab, capable of displaying massive data sets in real time, is also planned for Silverman, giving student and faculty researchers the ability to visualize and analyze complex data instantaneously and collaboratively with colleagues and students.
Several other exciting projects are in the works. “The next phases in The Heart of the Campus project will focus on the student experience outside of the classroom,” says Dennis R. Black, Vice President for University Life and Services. “Two projects being planned today would create a new one-stop student service center in Capen Lobby and an international market dining center in Norton Hall. Both projects would dramatically enhance campus life for the entire UB community by consolidating many essential services into one central location, and by offering a modern food service area, serving meals from around the globe.”
How You Can Help
The renovated Silverman Library is poised to be the new learning center for students on campus. UB Students will now have a state-of-the-art collaborative and hands-on environment that is a rich training ground for turning ideas into solutions and learning new skills for use in their careers and personal lives.
And while the UB Libraries and their resources are perceived as free amenities, the truth is without support from myriad sources, especially our generous donors, UB students would not have access to the space and services they deserve. Please know that your support of the UB Libraries has the potential to impact every student on campus and position each of them on a path to success. Gifts to UB Libraries can be made online at: