Library Space

As the academic hub of the university, library space must adapt to the evolving ways in which faculty and students work, study and conduct research today.

  • Digital technology is enabling new ways of learning and engaging with information that complement the library’s print materials.
  • The student body has grown by 50 percent since the last major renovation of Shields.
  • 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 begun to reimagine the future of our buildings to best meet the changing needs of the UC Davis community, now and into the future.

To lay the foundation for that vision, 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 plans for our library space.

Facility Vision + Space Playbook

In 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.

Proposed Priorities

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.

White Paper: Reinventing Our Library Space for the 21st Century

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.

Study Oasis
Photo by Hector Villicana/UC Davis Library

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

Group Study Room Renovations
Photo by Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

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 have installed large, wall-mounted screens that can be connected to students’ laptops (and comfortable, modern furniture) in the two Group Study Rooms that open off the Sally Porter Reading Room.

Modern Study Space
Photo by Pattie Chen/UC Davis Library

In time for Fall Quarter 2018, the library refurbished a large study space on the first floor of Shields Library with new furniture and plentiful outlets (always at the top of our students’ wish list for library study space improvements!) The new-and-improved space is almost always packed.

Multipurpose Academic Space

Floor plan for Shields 167, a new lecture and multipurpose room coming Summer 2019.

In partnership with Undergraduate Education, the library is renovating the former Course Reserves space into a multipurpose event/study space. A lecture hall by day, the new room will be available as an event space and additional student study space when not in use for classes. The space is expected to be open for use beginning in Summer 2019.

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 Lecture and Multipurpose Room in Shields

Floor plan for Shields 167, a new lecture and multipurpose room coming Summer 2019.

Shields Room 167, formerly known as Course Reserves, is being renovated to serve as a general assignment classroom Monday through Friday from 8:00AM and 5:00PM. When the room is not being used for classes, it will serve as additional study space for students. Occasionally, the room will also be used for meetings and events hosted by the library.

– Library News / December 13, 2018

Final-ly, more study spaces

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

See draft vision for library space

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

Library hosts workshops to shape future space

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

— The California Aggie / November 15, 2016

UC Davis library renovation project in its early stages

“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

‘Rethinking what our library can be’

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

Considering the future of our library space

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

To learn more about how you can support the future transformation of the UC Davis Library, including naming opportunities, please contact Toni Arellanes-Miller, Senior 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