By Meghan Cunningham
The second phase of renovations underway at Carlson Library will include a new veterans lounge, a glass wall spanning several stories allowing for more natural light, and an expanded concourse when you enter the building.
The $3 million renovations funded by state capital dollars will focus on the first and second floors of the library. The renovations, which are expected to be completed prior to the start of fall semester, follow the work on the third and fourth floors finished last year that included the creation of more than 20 new group study rooms and new paint, carpet, ceilings and lighting to transform the learning space.
“The south side of the second floor will be renovated to include group study rooms and study carrels like those that have become popular on the recently completed third and fourth floors,” said Barbara Floyd, interim director of University Libraries. “We recently conducted a survey asking students if they were satisfied with the renovations done, and the comments were overwhelmingly positive, with many students crediting the renovations with their success in the classroom.”
The second floor of the library also will be the new home for the University’s Veterans Lounge, which will relocate from its current location in Rocket Hall.
“Our student veterans were interested in a more centrally located space and in this academic setting they also will have better access to library resources for research and homework with longer hours to take advantage of the lounge,” said Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs.
A $20,000 donation from the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes supports the creation of the new lounge, which also will be larger with a separate social area and private study section.
The coalition’s gift was made in recognition of Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski, a UT alumnus and Army veteran who is the immediate past chairman of the organization’s board. The lounge will be named the Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski ’65 Veterans Lounge in his honor.
“It’s a fantastic idea, and I’m proud of the University for doing it. I’m just very humbled to be honored as part of the project,” Orlowski said. “The exchanges that will occur in this lounge will start with, ‘What are you studying and with what professors?’ But after that familiarity builds up, then the war stories come up. It will definitely help veteran students academically, but a secondary benefit that people may not realize is the camaraderie of others who have been where you’ve been and done what you’ve done.”
Orlowski graduated from UT in 1965 with a degree in English literature, and he also was a middle linebacker for the football team. He joined the Army later that year, and his 20-year military career included assignments in the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), HQ U.S. Army Europe, HQ U.S. Continental Army Command and the Office of the Adjutant General of the Army. For his service in Vietnam, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Air Medal.
The new Veterans Lounge is expected to open in early summer.
Library renovations will continue through the summer, with the addition of a glass wall on the east side spanning the height of the building that will open up the library with more sunlight. The staircase from the first to second floors also will be redesigned with a mezzanine area on the second floor further opening up the space.
The separate hallway that you currently pass through when walking into the library will be removed so that guests will immediately be in the lobby when they walk in from outside. The redesign also will bring all of the library’s patron services — including circulation, reference and instruction — to the first floor. The information technology help desk recently moved from the back of the floor to share space with the circulation desk at the front.