The University of Virginia was famously centered around a library — the Rotunda, Thomas Jefferson's "temple of knowledge," the container and dispenser of wisdom and the place where faculty and students learned together. For years the Rotunda was the busy hive of life at the University.
But by the 1930s both the collections and the student body had outgrown the Rotunda, and a new library was needed. Opened in 1938, Alderman Library (the main library), named for the first president of the University, became the flagship library of the state's premier institution. It was state-of-the-art, but it served a much smaller user population at a time when libraries were used differently and collections were much smaller. The design had limited flexibility, and apart from the "New Stacks" addition of the 1960s, no large-scale renovation or re-imagining has been undertaken.
The current renovation is being undertaken by Skanska USA following the plans of HBRA Architects. The renovation will not only bring the building up to modern standards of safety, accessibility, and service, it will restore the library to the position it enjoyed when it opened — a contemporary library with modern amenities suited to the needs of its users — and it will create a the library system's flexible hub for UVA's third century.