During National Library Week, the Eva B. Dykes Library celebrated its “refresh” with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 6, 2021. In attendance were members of the Oakwood University (OU) administration, led by Leslie N. Pollard, Ph.D., D.Min., M.B.A., president; vice presidents Colwick Wilson, Ph.D., Sabrina Cotton, Prudence Pollard, Ph.D., Karen Benn Marshall, Ed.D.; David Knight, vice president of student services; Jordain Thompson, USM president; and the library staff. Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min., Oakwood University Church senior pastor, offered the prayer of dedication.
Built in 1973, under the directorship of Jannith Lewis, Ph.D., whose time at Oakwood spanned 50 years, the Eva B. Dykes Library quickly became the center of study and research, and a place where many a student-worker learned to shelve books, file catalog cards, and acquired great customer service skills. Before the turn of the century, there were some changes made to the lower level, which now houses the Archives, Computer Center, Ellen G. White Research Center, and the Anna Knight Center for Women’s Leadership Center and Museum.
When Paulette Johnson assumed the role of director of Library Services in 2003, she realized that in this technological, collaboration and innovation-centered time, some changes would have to be made to bring the library to the 21st century. She had a vision of what the library could be, and started making plans and applying for grants. Although Johnson was not there when her vision was realized, God brought Ruth Swan, Ph.D., back to Oakwood as the library’s interim director, from 2019 to 2020, to direct a great work.
With plan in hand, ideas of her own — some fueled by previous library surveys; the approval and allocation of Title III funds from Colwick Wilson and OU administration; and the work of Handel Fraser, Ed.D., project manager, and Ade Adewoye of Brooks Architecture, the library has been refreshed. Fraser reports that the following areas were included in the refresh:
- Remediated or removed mold in the lower level. Shaft replaced in the elevator.
- Replaced fluorescent lights with LED lighting on the main and mezzanine floors.
- Replaced ceiling tiles with special acoustics and design.
- Repainted the entire main and mezzanine levels with a color that enhanced the brightness of the library.
- Replaced carpet with herringbone pattern on the main floor, and another pattern on the mezzanine level.
- Added electrical outlets for users to plug in their devices.
- Designed new furniture to create a learning and collaboration space for students.
- Added new pavers at the front of the library with special plumbing below the pavers.
To create the large open spaces, the stacks and shelves were relocated from the main floor to the mezzanine, and the reference and children’s collections were relocated to the northeast side of the main floor. This, with a little help from Two Men and a Truck and Applewhite Movers, was done by the members of the library staff: Odalys Miranda, Stella Mbyirukira, Evaline Otieno, Elaine Parker, and Barbara Stovall, D.B.A. The spring 2021 student-workers were assigned the task of shelf reading.
Leslie Pollard commented, “The $5,000,000 renovation of the library is a timely investment in creating an up-to-date space for student research and study. The Eva B. Dykes Library renovation joins the lineup of historic buildings on our campus that have been modernized — Carter Hall, Cunningham Hall, Ford Hall, Cooper Science Complex (Department of Biological Sciences), Peterson Hall, Moran Hall, Blake Center, the Dining Hall, and the 4920 University Square building — with more to come.” He concluded, “We are getting there, step by step. Our commitment is to make sure that our students experience Oakwood’s best!”
As you enter the refreshed library, you are drawn to the open space, the brightness and ambience of the center that draws you to study, research, or collaborate. You can choose between the individual cubby section on the mezzanine level, or you may want to go to the collaboration/innovation section where there are movable tables and chairs; or, perhaps you prefer standing (or sitting in the bar chairs) at one of the high semicircular tables. It’s your choice. There are also “group” study rooms that are available for groups to work on projects once the pandemic is manageable.
In addition, there’s new signage, created by graphic designer Ron Pride, that is popping up in various places of the library. No need to worry about overcrowding because, once proper arrangements have been made with library administration, there is still plenty of space to house rotating departmental displays of student research or artwork.
All in all, the Eva B. Dykes Library refresh is outstanding! The Oakwood family is praising God for all who worked to make this refresh possible for the educational and research hub of the beloved Oakwood University.
Oakwood University | June 2021