Legat Architects

Not Your Parents’ Library

For many years, academic libraries emphasized collection size and individual study. Harper College’s renovated library takes a different path: diverse seating options support both teamwork and individual study.


Learning Link

When students enter from the campus quad, they experience an atrium/grand stair called the “learning link.” This activity hub unites the three stories, draws students into the library, and even has seating bays at the stair landing extensions.

Comfortable, Colorful, Flexible – Watch Video

See before and after photos and find out what staff have to say about the renovated library.

“This was one of the most complicated projects this college has ever known, and it was brought in three months ahead of schedule.”


No More Barriers

Before renovation, the library, with its tall shelves and many walls, had a closed-off feel. Now, it’s much like a mall. Students can see everything around them . . . especially on the second floor—glass walls provide transparency and promote access, plus bookshelf height lowered from seven feet to four feet.

“Our new library is designed to improve the student experience by providing space that reflects new ways of engaging with and using information.”

William Rainey Harper Room

A multipurpose room on the second floor transforms from casual seating area into event, meeting, lecture, or gallery space. Its large glass walls keep it visually connected to the library.


“It’s comfortable, it’s flexible, it’s colorful. It creates a happy mood.”

“People who remember the old building and see this are hard-pressed to believe it’s the same building.”

“It makes working up here a joy.”



One longtime staffer used the word “nest” to describe her positive feelings about the library. This inspired the design team to specify Kirei Board, a nest-like panel of reclaimed sorghum straw that appears throughout the facility. The material also gives a nod to Harper’s mascot: a hawk.

“We had trouble not long ago getting students into the library; now it’s a busy place every day.”