Temple’s new Charles Library opens to the public

Parts of the building are still under construction after it opened on Sunday.

The Charles Library opened to the public on Aug. 25 while ongoing construction will continue inside the building throughout the following months. | MATT ALTEA / FILE PHOTO

Hundreds of students and faculty poured into the Charles Library on Sunday when it opened to the public four years after the university broke ground. 

Some parts of the building are still under construction and are closed off to the public, including the fourth-floor terrace. 

Concept planning for the library began in 2013 and construction began in 2015. The Board of Trustees originally approved $170 million for the project, but added $5.8 million in March to pay for increasing labor costs, technology and facilities changes. 

On-going construction includes installing light fixtures, painting, closing holes in some walls and installing signage, said Julia Mullin, the university’s associate director of construction.

The building, which replaced Paley Library, features a student success center, more than 40 study rooms, and a digital scholarship area which includes advanced computers and 3D printers, Mullin said. 

“The strategy is to have small coloration rooms, meeting spaces, big open areas for social activity and quiet study spaces that are connected to technology and innovation,” said Joe Lucia, dean of Temple Libraries. 

The first thing students see when entering the library is a large, open space on the ground floor that will feature Stella’s, a new cafe that sells La Colombe Coffee.  

The books are housed in the library by a robotic book retrieval system called DEMATIC. There are a total of four DEMATIC systems in the building, and students can check books out on their mobile devices and have one of the robots retrieve them, Mullin said. 

The fourth floor holds books that can be checked out, including those too large to fit in the DEMATIC system, Mullin said. 

The fourth floor will also feature a terrace, which will be a green space used for special events.  

“That terrace was designed to be a public space, but we have to be careful about what the safety issues are,” Lucia said. “I would like to see us using it as public space.” 

The space is much larger than Paley, but cannot fit every student because of the university’s growing population and the popularity of the new space, Lucia said.

Every table on the ground floor was taken by students on Monday and a long line formed outside the cafe.

“Compared to Paley, there’s so much room and more space and actually has a social aspect here rather than the traditional library,” said Tan Lee, a senior kinesiology major. “It’s more like a social and learning hangout for student bodies.”

The College of Public Health will likely use vacant space in Paley, said Dozie Ibeh, the associate vice president of Temple’s Project Delivery Group. 

Paley’s construction and redesign would not start for another 15 to 16 months, Ibeh added. 

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