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Roy Simperman, a 1962 Carroll graduate, right,

Roy Simperman, a 1962 Carroll College graduate, right, and John Cech, president of Carroll College, discuss the $7 million renovation of the 40-year-old Corette Library on the Carroll College campus.

Carroll College is close to beginning the second phase of construction on the $7 million renovation of its 40-year-old library.

The new, expanded building will be named the Jack and Sallie Corette Library and Simperman Learning Commons and is part of the College's attempt to "establish the library as the 'hub' of the student academic experience on campus."

Student body president Kennedy Bahm said that as a student, it was "really cool to bring in resources and opportunities and to have access to information," while also having the opportunity to learn how best to utilize those different options.

The new Learning Commons will include new study spaces, a Center for Professional Communications and a redesigned archives, along with a cafe, gallery, classroom and new administrative areas.

Student body president Kennedy Bahm

Student body president Kennedy Bahm said that as a student, it was "really cool to bring in resources and opportunities and to have access to information."

The first phase of the project, adding 17,000 square feet of space to the bottom level, began in May and will be completed in December. The entire $7 million project is slated to be completed by 2020.

Roy Simperman, a 1962 Carroll graduate, is a driving financial force behind the new building.

The original library was actually named after his (now deceased) wife's father, and Simperman saw the library's needs as a place to help Carroll modernize. 

"Corette Library needed some help," Simperman said. "So we thought about expanding into something greater than a library."

Simperman said the decision to turn the library into a learning commons happened after they looked all over the nation at how other colleges and universities utilize their learning spaces.

The conclusion?

"The library becomes a learning center," Simperman said. 

Karla Hokit, interim library director, said the Learning Commons brings together "the components for knowledge."

Undergraduate knowledge is what Hokit believes the new building will better serve, as students will be able to flow from knowing what is unknown to discovering the unknown to then presenting the recently known all in one place.

"Lots of tech in education is directed to the student," Simperman said. "But if you put tech in the class to help the teacher ... it can be much more efficient," and possibly avoid debt, Simperman said. 

Carroll College President John Cech sees the Learning Commons as the heart of Carroll's educational mission.

"Undergraduate teaching is so important," Cech said. "The learning commons is at the center for research and is key for that."

Cech also understands that for the modern student, libraries are "less used for accessing information than for finding a place to be productive."

Bahm agreed with Cech.

"People go to the Cube (Carroll's student union) to socialize, but no one gets any work done there so they come to the library."

Cech described the project as "transformative."

"It will change the fabric and the architecture of the entire college," he said.

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Reporter at the Helena Independent Record.

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