The library is the academic hub of the university. It is a gathering place where students, faculty and researchers come together to explore, learn and share ideas. It is a space for quiet study and collaboration, for deep thought and discovery.

Why do the library’s buildings need to change?

  • The student body has grown by 50 percent since the last major renovation of Shields.
  • Digital technology is enabling new ways of learning and engaging with information.
  • There is a shortage of available study spaces on campus equipped with the technology students need. With 350,000 square feet of space at Shields alone, the library has a unique opportunity to meet that need.
  • Collaboration across disciplines, and between faculty and students, is increasingly important in academic life. As a neutral space at the crossroads of campus, the library can provide a place for that collaboration to happen.

The library has embarked on a long-term process of reimagining the future of our buildings on campus. Our goal: To renovate the library’s physical facilities to best meet the changing needs of the UC Davis community, now and into the future.

Phase 1: Visioning

In 2016, the library invited students, faculty and researchers to participate in a year-long, campus-wide conversation about what kind of research library the university needs, and how the library’s physical spaces can help meet those needs. That process, facilitated by the user-centered design consultancy brightspot strategy, resulted in a Facility Vision + Space Playbook that will guide future renovations of our library space.

Our next step is to determine, in partnership with campus stakeholders, which of the ideas outlined in the playbook should be prioritized first. See the Vision for Shields section below to learn more.

Phase 2: Detailed Programming

As priorities are agreed upon, the library will develop a detailed list of space requirements so that architects and designers know what needs to be included in the blueprints they create. This detailed list of requirements will also help the library determine initial estimated project costs and inform a comprehensive fundraising plan to meet those costs.

Phase 3: Design & Construction

Design and architectural work, which depends on raising funds, may take place in phases.


Throughout 2016, the library partnered with brightspot strategy, a user-centered design consultancy, to engage students, faculty and researchers from across campus in a conversation about the future of our library space.

The visioning process included focus groups, workshops, interviews, tabling outreach and surveys. This report describes the research findings and makes recommendations for how the library’s space can best meet the future needs of the UC Davis community.

While the project explored all of the library spaces on the Davis campus — Shields, Carlson Health Sciences and the Physical Sciences & Engineering libraries — the recommendations focus primarily on Shields as the library’s largest and most centrally located facility.


Based on brightspot’s user research and in conversation with our campus partners, the library has identified three initial priorities:

  1. Create a more welcoming, versatile and contemporary environment for UC Davis students.
  2. Provide a central hub for campus resources focused on student academic success.
  3. Support faculty and other researchers interacting with information in new ways.

This brief describes specific proposed changes for the campus to consider that could support each of these priorities.


This white paper offers a bold vision for a library that:

  • Prepares students to become skilled consumers of information — critical to success in today’s knowledge-based economy;
  • Preserves and provides access to knowledge in all forms, both physical and digital;
  • Helps people connect and collaborate across the university’s usual divides, both in person and using technology; and
  • Provides universal, democratic access to information, technology and expertise that advance research, teaching and learning across disciplines.

Students make up 93% of the library’s visitors, so creating more modern, comfortable and technologically functional study spaces is a top priority.

Because we want today’s students to benefit, too, we’re starting to make changes now — even while longer term plans are still underway. Our first pilot projects, planned for the second floor of Shields, will be completed in Fall 2017.

New Study Oasis... Coming Soon!

This side of the Sally Porter Reading Room, adjacent to the Main Reading Room on the second floor of Shields, is about to be refurbished with comfortable new seating, thanks to challenges from the Library Board and Golden 1 Credit Union and contributions from other donors on UC Davis Give Day 2017.

Group Study Room Renovations

We also know that students need access to technology when they’re working together on projects. Thanks to a generous donation from Library Board Chair Mike Gilson and his wife Cathy Blake, we’ll be installing large, wall-mounted screens that can be connected to students’ laptops (and replacing the furniture) in the two Group Study Rooms that open off the Sally Porter Reading Room.

The library will share its draft vision at a pair of town halls for faculty and students on December 1, 2016.

— Dateline / November 22, 2016

Workshops were collaborative and hands-on, with participants encouraged to suggest ideas, the Aggie reports.

— The California Aggie / November 15, 2016

The campus community is invited to participate in workshops and an online survey as the library’s visioning process continues, building on midpoint research insights from user research conducted during Spring 2016.

— Dateline / October 10, 2016

“Shields is definitely one of the busiest buildings on campus, as far as undergraduates go. But it’s not really contemporary space. We’ve always known that it has a lot of potential to be renovated.”

— The California Aggie / May 27, 2016

The library launches a year-long visioning process to reimagine how our library spaces can best meet the needs of students today.

— Dateline / May 3, 2016

Opening more study spaces – and keeping them open for longer hours – has been a long-standing request of the UC Davis student body. It was a relief for many when Shields Library opened additional 24-hour study spaces.

– The California Aggie /  December 7, 2017


To learn more about how you can support the future transformation of the UC Davis Library, including naming opportunities, please contactAntoinette Arellanes-Miller, Director of Development, UC Davis Library at (530) 752-2422 or

If you have questions about the future transformation of the library or ideas you would like to share, please email