For a long time, the Diane M. Halle Library interior remained the same.
A circulation desk stood reliably at the entrance for students to check out books or ask questions, with several librarians always on call to help. Large wooden tables and chairs filled study rooms and the mezzanine. Comfortable maroon chairs lined up alongside shelves of books, with printers across the way.
For 17 years, Halle Library Director Brian Courtemanche has never seen the space presented any other way.
But this summer ushered in a much-needed refresh at the library, and while Courtemanche admitted that change can be a bit scary, he’s also newly excited about the library’s future.
“I like it a lot. It took some getting used to because, for many years, it was the way it was,” said Courtemanche. “I’m seeing how open it is: the effect of the furniture, the effect of the paint. It’s airier and more welcoming.”
Once approved in May to start renovations, the Physical Plant team got right to work, with updates led by Facilities Designer/Planning Assistant Betsy Ellor.
The author of My Dog is NOT a Scientist, a children’s book published this year by Yeehoo Press, Ellor said the library project was ideal.
“Like any reader or writer, you have a vision of people loving words and enjoying them,” said Ellor. “It gives it extra meaning when I’m working on a space where I get to do both, my love of books and words and also design.”
Taking into account feedback from students, library staff, Provost Sara Quay, and President Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D., Ellor said the common goal was to make the location livelier and more engaging.
She noted that because a more significant renovation is planned in the next five to 10 years, the summer transformation had to be budget-friendly, but substantial enough to make an impact.
@endicottcollegeofficial A transformation for the Halle Library! With new furniture and seating arrangements, fresh paint, new flooring, and more, the library has been revamped as a destination for students to read, relax, and study. 🎥: Katherine Davis ‘25 #HalleLibrary #Renovations #Read #Books #Library #Study #Relax #College #EndicottCollege #ThisisEndicott ♬ original sound - Endicott College Official
Ellor used pieces of old library furniture to build new structures, including wood from the old circulation and reference desks, which were merged to create a new, big center. A desk for Information Technology was also added, providing a point person for technical questions like printing and Gull card issues.
“It adds to the boots on the ground because that’s what the library is known for. There’s always somebody here,” said Laurie Souza, Assistant Director of the Library. “When students come in, they need help, and it’s nice to be able to speak to a person directly. We’re just providing another option for that, and they’ll now be helped immediately.”
Gone are the dark rectangular study tables, now replaced with cushy chairs and modular, movable tables. Built-in bookshelves were removed from the front of the library, allowing students to absorb the beautiful campus views while studying or reading.
“We talked about a combination of soft seating and tables of different sizes in each place,” said Ellor. “We rearranged furniture so that whether you want to sit up in the mezzanine or down here or out there, you can choose how you want to sit.”
A handful of minor but impactful improvements—new wall paint, new lighting fixtures to brighten up the room, and replacement of some flooring and carpeting—add to the overall feeling of a modern, welcoming library.
“Physical Plant did a very surgical job, where you’re looking at this and it looks like it was always meant to be this way,” said Ellor. “They did a really excellent job.”
In collaboration with the Division of Academic Success, a section of the first-floor library space was also dedicated to giving students space to relax and disconnect from their phones. Known as Read and Relax, the area has been outfitted with shelves of fiction books that students requested by authors like Colleen Hoover, John Green, and others.
“This collection addresses perhaps another part of their intellectual life, their imaginative life, and their want for something to relax with,” said Courtemanche.
As the school year ramps up and the Read and Relax initiative gains traction, Souza said the library will possibly add more books to the collection. “We’re hoping that this takes off,” said Souza. “We’re going to play it by ear, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”