Students flock to Grand Valley's new library

Mary Idema Pew Library Student Sneak Peek
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Mary Idema Pew Library Student Sneak Peek
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More than 2,000 people attended the April 17 Student Sneak Peek of the new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, currently under construction on the Grand Valley State University Allendale Campus. Construction will be completed this summer; a Community Open House is planned for September 7.

Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas wanted graduating seniors and returning students to get a peek of the new library before heading home for the summer. During the event Lee Van Orsdel, dean of Grand Valley’s University Libraries; and James Moyer, associate vice president for Facilities Planning answered questions and chatted with students who were guided through select areas. Other library staff were also on site to point out key areas. Students were excited and snapped photos with their cell phones, tweeted to their friends and posted to social media sites.

The Mary Idema Pew Library is a prototype for 21st century learning, with many unique aspects such as the Knowledge Market, which will provide students access to experts in research, technology, writing and presentation development, giving graduates a tangible advantage in the workforce and in their contribution as leaders in their communities.

The new facility is named after Mary Idema Pew, who was a trailblazer with a lifelong passion for education. Her late husband, Robert C. Pew, one of Grand Valley’s founders and an early Board of Trustees member, generously provided the lead gift that was the catalyst for this $65 million project. Their daughter Kate Pew Wolters currently serves on Grand Valley’s Board of Trustees. More than 1,400 donors, including community members, corporations, foundations, alumni, faculty, staff, and students and their families, helped to raise more than $20 million for the new library.

The Zumberge Library was built in the 1960s for 5,000 students; today Grand Valley serves nearly 25,000 students. The Mary Idema Pew Library will have triple the seating capacity, provide space for 150,000 books on open shelves and 600,000 library items in an automated retrieval system, and places for quiet study as well as a wide variety of venues for group collaboration.  

The design and construction team selected for this project includes SHW Group, architects; FTC&H, civil engineering; and Pioneer Construction. The building is seeking the highest level LEED certification, having been designed and constructed to use half the energy of a similar building using traditional methods.

Construction will be completed this summer; a Community Open House is planned for September 7.