Stanford's new Lathrop Library ready for Sept. 15 opening

Lathrop Library will be the new home of the East Asia Library and other units previously housed in Meyer Library. The four-story building is filled with seminar rooms and classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology designed to enhance teaching, learning and research. 

L.A. Cicero Lathrop Library reading room

A comfortable reading room in Stanford's new Lathrop Library will beckon students when it opens Sept. 15, just in time for New Student Orientation.

When Stanford's spacious new East Asia Library opens its doors in mid-September, it will finally have the space – and many lighted glass cabinets – to display precious materials from its vast Chinese, Japanese and Korean collections that have long been in storage.

The East Asia Library is moving into renovated and refurbished quarters in Lathrop Library, a four-story building located on Memorial Way, next door to Memorial Auditorium.

In addition to the East Asia Library, Lathrop Library also will be the new home of Academic Computing Services, which oversees multimedia and digital production services, the Tech Desk, the Digital Language Lab, the Academic Technology Lab and a maker space known as create:space.

Other Stanford Libraries units, including Preservation, Acquisitions and Digital Library Services, will be housed in the building as well.

All of them were formerly located in Meyer Library, which closed Aug. 22 and will eventually be demolished.

Lathrop Library – named in honor of Jane Lathrop Stanford, who co-founded the university with her husband, Leland Stanford, in 1891 – will open its doors on Sept. 15, a week before classes begin for the 2014-15 academic year.

In 1905, as she was preparing to leave on a world trip, Jane Lathrop Stanford instructed the university's Board of Trustees to sell her jewelry collection to establish the "Jewel Fund," an endowment to maintain a strong library and to support the purchase of materials. Stanford established the fund in 1908 with a starting sum of $500,000.

The Lathrop Library is filled with seminar rooms and classrooms equipped with state-of-the art technology designed to enhance teaching and learning. Students will find a spacious 24-hour study space equipped with dual-boot Mac/Windows computers and large tables for individual quiet study.

Bishop Auditorium, a 300-seat lecture hall that was part of the original building (the Graduate School of Business – South Building), has a new sound system, lighting and seating.

A sunny second-floor balcony features tables with canvas umbrellas.

The doors of the East Asia Library are framed with glass panels featuring images of swaying bamboo stalks, curved branches and slender leaves.

L.A. CiceroJidong Yang

Jidong Yang, head of the East Asia Library, envisions the new library as a gathering place for Stanford students and faculty, plus East Asia scholars from across the globe.

"We are very proud of our new, spacious library, " said Jidong Yang, head of the East Asia Library, who arrived at Stanford in May 2013.

"It will help us accomplish our biggest mission, which is to provide the resources Stanford faculty and students need for all of the teaching, learning and research activities related to East Asian studies – in all formats. In the new library, we have so much study space and events space. Our stacks capacity is almost doubled compared with Meyer Library. We will have more iMacs for people to access our digital resources. We have electronic resources in all three East Asian languages – Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The library also will serve visiting scholars from other countries,  as well as researchers from all over North America."

The East Asia Library specializes in materials devoted to the social sciences and humanities for all historical periods in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages.

It has moved half of its collection – close to 350,000 volumes – into the new library. The rest of the East Asia Library's 680,000-volume collection is housed in Stanford Auxiliary Library (SAL) 2 on Pampas Lane and in SAL 3 in the East Bay.

Patrons will be able to roam stacks on three floors – in the basement, and on the second and third floors. In its old location, the stacks were located in a dark basement.

During a recent tour of the library, Yang pointed out how the larger physical space and shelving plan will allow the library to expand its collection in support of East Asia scholarship and teaching.

The East Asia Library has three classrooms, a lecture hall that will hold four-dozen people, three group study rooms and four offices for visiting scholars. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University will makes its home there. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West.

"We had open study space at Meyer, but no enclosed rooms of any size there," Yang said.

In the East Asia Library, patrons will find four open study spaces with upholstered chairs and lighted reading tables.

For the first time, the East Asia Library will be able to store some of its special collection on site and deliver materials to patrons in its new special collection reading room, Yang said.

Yang said he hopes to host at least 20 special events per quarter at the library, including weekly lectures offered by Stanford's Center for East Asian Studies, which is located nearby. In late October, the East Asia Library will host the annual meeting of the western branch of the American Oriental Society, which encourages basic research in the languages and literatures of Asia.

Connect, collaborate and create

The second floor of Lathrop Library has five flexible seminar rooms and two larger flexible classrooms (one holds 55 and the other holds 140) that are managed by the University Registrar. The flexible teaching spaces allow faculty to configure the room in any number of arrangements – chairs arrayed around tables rolled together in a "U" shape or into one large table, or tables folded and rolled out of the way to make way for rows or circles of chairs – in order to make best use of the screens, smart boards and whiteboards in the rooms.

The library's 24-hour student study space and language labs are located on the first floor.

The first floor is the home of the Academic Computing Tech Lounge, including the Tech Desk, multimedia and digital production services, and create:space, which are expected to be swarming with students working on collaborative projects.

"It's meant to be a place where students can share and collaborate," said Gabrielle Karampelas, director of communications and development for Stanford University Libraries. "As it was in Meyer, the Tech Lounge will be an active center, where discussion, project work and brainstorming will create a lively environment."

Technology galore – and help from photo, audio and video editing experts – will be available at the Tech Desk. Students and faculty can check out digital cameras or video cameras, lighting, microphones, projectors and laptops. They also may take advantage of its oversized printing service to print posters for conferences and presentations.

The Tech Desk is located in a spacious room filled with long tables for group work, as well as large, wooden portable workspaces – for working on individual or group projects. There also is a jumble of soft seating options, including beanbag chairs, for lounging in one corner.

Multimedia and digital production services, located in an alcove near the Tech Desk, has a fleet of Mac Pro desktops that come fully loaded with Apple Final Cut Studio, Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, and a variety of other software packages for image, audio, and video editing.

Acoustical presto change-o

In the largest state-of-the-art classroom in the library, faculty members can adjust the acoustics of the 3,000-square-foot room to suit the situation – while making a presentation at a whiteboard, using one of its 80-inch interactive displays, conducting a Q&A or directing the students to work in small groups.

And they can make those switches with a simple tap of a button on an iPad.

"In question-and-answer mode, the acoustic management system facilitates conversation so that questions asked, as well as the answers delivered, can be heard by everyone in the room," said Robert Emery Smith, director of technology services for the University Registrar. "We hope it will help faculty address classes in a conversational tone of voice."

He said switching the acoustics to  "group work" makes small group conversation easy and comfortable, without interference from the other conversations and activities in the room, which can accommodate 140 students.

"We tweaked the sound so that the rest of the room dissolves to a happy roar in group work mode," Smith said. "We want the happy human energy of the room to surround you, just not in a way that leaves you yelling to be heard by other students in your group."

To accomplish that acoustical magic, the room has 40 microphones dangling on slender cables from the ceiling, more than 70 speakers arrayed along the walls and "a whole lot of processing power," Smith said.

He said some of the features in the new seminar rooms and classrooms represent changes requested by faculty members. In a recent survey, faculty said they wanted to be able to use a whiteboard and a screen simultaneously. In older classrooms, the screens cover the whiteboards when they are lowered. In Lathrop, they can be found side by side.