New library brings place for study, community to heart of campus

November 14, 2013 / by / 3 Comments

Story by Cooper Nelson
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau

The former Fleming Library has found a new home in the expanded four-story Student Union, standing tall as a modern academic oasis in the heart of the Grand Canyon University campus.

The new library, on the third and fourth floors of the Student Union, will open at 7 a.m. Monday in what library staffers are calling a “soft open.” GCU students and staff will be able to use the space for study and community purposes, but they might have to wait until closer to the Dec. 3 grand opening for access to books. The official grand opening will be held at 11 a.m. on that date and will include tours, free food and prizes.

The “yellow floor.” on the third floor of the Student Union, has been designed as a collaborative study area. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

The “yellow floor.” on the third floor of the Student Union, has been designed as a collaborative study area. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

The 29,000-square-foot library serves as the Union’s final addition alongside the new Starbucks on the second floor and an expanded first-level dining area. The library’s new location offers an Arena-like design and relaxing ambiance, with two-story-high glass windows to look out over the north and south ends of campus.The third floor, known as the “yellow floor” for its color of furniture and scheme, is designed as a collaborative study area. The fourth floor, known as the “red floor,” is designed for individual study. The library can be accessed through the Union’s main stairs or elevators on the north side of the building by Hegel Hall.

Hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday. GCU’s Marketing Department is holding a contest to name the new library. (Submit ideas to

The 19-member library staff, headed by director Nita Mailander, made study and community space a focus of the facility. The library boasts 18 group-study rooms – 12 with LCD-display TVs – 140 computers, more than 600 seats, a lecture-style classroom, wireless printing and plenty of electrical outlets.

Only 4,000 of the most popular books from GCU’s stock of nearly 35,000 are available on location. The rest are stored in a building formerly occupied by a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant adjacent to the shopping center west of campus. Students or staff wishing to use books in storage can request a copy from a librarian, who will retrieve it for pick-up the next day. Titles also are available through the online library database.

Mailander said the emphasis on study space over shelf space is an answer to student feedback at the Fleming location. Fleming housed the full stock of textbooks but had only 36 computers and limited seating.

“We wanted to promote a collaborative study space and make it more of a community space than a storage space for stuff,” said Mailander, who has worked at the library for four years, serving as director for the last two.

“The library has top-notch quality research for students, and now we have a space that’s perfect for quality collaboration for students,” she said. “It’s a night-and-day difference from what it was before.”

The opening of the library ends a yearlong, three-stop expedition. The Fleming Library near the main entrance to campus originally opened in 1957, following the move of then-Grand Canyon College from Prescott to Phoenix. It served as the University library for 56 years before moving to a temporary location in Building 9, in the shadow of the College of Arts and Sciences building, while the Union location was under construction.The move to the center of campus makes the library a focal point for students and completes another modern building to go with the Arena, Thunder Alley and the CAS and COE buildings.

“Having it in the central location of campus with Starbucks and the Union and Thunder Alley is really important,” said Cassidy Pavelich, a GCU senior and library staffer. Pavelich worked at all three locations this year and said the emphasis on study space speaks to the University’s online learning model.

“As a freshman, I didn’t really know the library was there, so having it at a central location (on campus) will make it busier,” Pavelich said.

GCU theology instructor Margaret Koontz said the library is integral to student success in the classroom.

Koontz routinely takes students in her classes to the library to conduct research. She even conducts a mandatory library tour for her freshman students during the first week of school.

“The library is a tool that students need,” Koontz said. “I think the new location, being more available in the center of campus, and the access to scholarly research and face-to-face availability of librarians can make a huge difference for students of what seems possible (to accomplish).”

Other construction updates:

— GCU Arena will undergo construction at the end of the men’s and women’s basketball season in March to add 2,000 upper-level seats to the current 5,000 seats. Construction will be completed in time for the 2014-15 season.

— Construction on the new student apartment complex, on the north half of the parking lot beside Sedona Hall, is expected to be completed by August 2014. The 350,000-square-foot complex will span two buildings and include 948 beds, full kitchens and two additional campus eateries, along with housing the mail center currently located in the old Halo parking lot west of campus.

— The interior of the former Fleming Library is being remodeled and will become the new offices of GCU’s executive team.

— Buildings 1 (alumni relations/online education building), 2 (provost/university relations) and 3 (executive team) will become enrollment offices as soon as Fleming Library is remodeled. The Kaibab Enrollment Center will serve exclusively as athletics offices.

— The final four departments will move into the 27th Avenue Office Center over the Christmas break, for a total of 15 departments. The four include Human Resources, Marketing and the Office of Academic Records, which will move from the Colter office location, and Doctoral Studies, which will move from the Fleming classroom building. More than 500 full-time employees, along with technical support and student workers, will inhabit the building in the spring.

— A 39,000-square-foot classroom building similar in design to the College of Arts and Sciences building and located on the north side of CAS, on what formerly was the grassy area between the Promenade and the Bookstore, will be ready for classes next fall. The four-story building will have nine traditional classrooms and two IT rooms. The Learning Lounge for K-12 outreach, currently located in the Annex building, will take up most of the ground floor.

— The Learning Lounge will move temporarily to Building 9 after the library has fully transitioned into its Union location.

Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or

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3 Responses
  1. Juan

    So excited for the new library!
    It looks beautiful! So glad they are opening until midnight! That’s great. Will spend a lot of time at this location for sure!

    Nov.14.2013 at 1:31 pm
  2. CoryA

    What is being done to replace the 100’s of student parking spaces where the new Apartments are being built? Seems buildings continue to go up which is taking away more & more student parking.

    Dec.03.2013 at 12:33 pm
  3. Janie Magruder

    Hello and thanks for writing.

    There is some information in our Burning Questions video (at, and also this from 10/14 Campus Digest:
    A new residence hall at the northeast corner of campus will displace nearly 500 parking spots in the lot south of Sedona Hall and east of Camelback Hall beginning Oct. 21. Resident students familiar with parking in that east lot will now be asked to park in the new Colter lot east of Sedona Hall. Additional parking is located in other corners of campus, as Steve Soukup, GCU’s vice president of campus operations in charge of parking, addressed in our “Burning Questions” YouTube video. Also, there is still room for 115 students to swap their exisiting permits to park at the Colter lot. Hundreds of students have already volunteered. Those who do receive $250 in “‘Lopes cash” reimbursement on their student ID cards.

    Again, this was posted on Oct. 14, so some of it (ie extra room in the Colter lot) is outdated.

    GCU’s parking website has answers to specific questions —

    Janie Magruder

    Dec.04.2013 at 10:55 am
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