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Cook Library Renovations Complete in Time for Start of 2021-22 School Year

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 15:06pm | By: David Tisdale


Photos of the library's renovations

USM photos by Kelly Dunn

One of the most important elements of the academic experience for University of Southern Mississippi (USM) students – Cook Memorial Library on the Hattiesburg campus – has a new look and feel just in time for a new school year, following a $12.1 million renovation of the facility.

Funded by legislative bonds and a $1.4 million contribution from the USM Athletics Foundation, work on the renovation of Cook Library began in the spring of 2019 and was completed in February 2021.

“Cook Library was in need of a renovation, due to the evolving needs of our campus, to support our students,” said Dr. John Eye, dean of University Libraries. “Services were previously spread across multiple locations and within the library, so the renovation helps address these barriers. Students now also have better, more functional places in the library to work individually and in groups, with more study rooms equipped with technology to help them be more productive.

“The basic infrastructure of Cook Library was also in need of repair and replacement, such as heating and cooling, electrical, and emergency detection and alarms, and new LED lighting for the entire building. The back-up generator and elevators were also aged and ready to be replaced.”

Improved access to resources for students that can be found in Cook Library include the iTech Help Desk, Speaking Center, Writing Center, Bower Academic Center, Trio – Student Support Services, The Mathematics Center, University Advisement Center, Center for Student Success and Title IX -- all now available at one central location and at times designed to be more accommodating. 

New finishes like carpet, paint, furniture, and re-organized workspaces also make Cook Library more inviting and efficient. 

“Our library faculty and staff have worked hard to maximize these changes to benefit students as much as possible,” Dr. Eye further noted. “We will continue to make positive adjustments that improve the student experience at Southern Miss.”

Named for USM’s first president, Joseph Anderson Cook, Cook Memorial Library was built in 1960. In 1966, a two-story addition was added to the back of the library, doubling the size of the building, and the five-story addition was constructed in 1995. Total square footage of the facility is 234,882.

Dr. Chris Crenshaw, USM’s senior associate vice president for facilities, planning and management, concurred with Dr. Eye. “In my opinion, this is a landmark project for Southern Miss in terms of how it allows us to maximize our ability to provide supportive academic resources to assist students on their journey to graduation,” he said.

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