Swilley Library undergoes major renovation with students in mind 

Four students walk a hallway in between shelves of books
Mercer University students walk under the new skylight in the Swilley Library.

The Monroe F. Swilley Jr. Graduate and Professional Library is better serving the needs of students following a $2 million renovation of the building on Mercer University’s Atlanta campus.

Over the past several months, the library has undergone extensive renovations from cosmetic upgrades to needed repairs, as well as a redesign of the space to better suit students’ various learning styles — from individual to group study. Comfortable seating and a micro market that is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week encourage students to sit and stay a while.

“The 21st century university student, whether they’re undergraduate students or graduate students, not only do they expect to find resources online, but they expect the library — the building itself — to be a place for community,” said Dr. Jeffrey Waldrop, vice provost for University Libraries.

This is the first time the Swilley Library has undergone such an extensive renovation.

The style now better reflects that of some of Mercer’s newer buildings, including gray carpet with orange accents, white walls and matching furniture. A new skylight, combined with new LED lighting, brightens up the space.

“It just looks a lot neater and, frankly, a lot more professional than before,” Dr. Waldrop said.

Many of the changes made at the library were geared toward the study habits and preferences of graduate students, who are its main users.

“We are primarily a commuter campus, and as a commuter campus, the library is the heart of the campus,” said Kim Eccles, director of the Swilley Library. “So, we’re that one place where students can go and kick back, feel comfortable and wait between classes if they have to do that.

“And we actually get a lot of students from the centers who will come to Atlanta when they don’t have class. They’ll come here to study.”

A student in front of a laptop writes on a pad of paper.
A student works in a renovated study room at the Swilley Library.

That meant expanding the areas that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; freeing up more space for groups to collaborate; installing new white boards in study rooms; and adding swing gates with Bear Card readers at the entrance for increased security, Dr. Waldrop said.

The front desk and research services space were also improved.

Construction started in fall 2021 and was completed this spring. The library was able to stay open throughout the process by strategically closing specific areas as they were being worked on and scheduling key projects for times when not many students are typically present, like on Saturdays.

Other improvements included repairing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; gutting and rebuilding the bathrooms; and replacing the roof.

Students already have started complimenting the changes, Eccles said.

“One of the most attractive things, I think, for some students are the chairs that allow them to sit right in front of the window spaces that are now nice and clean,” she said. “It’s so much lighter and brighter inside the building, and I think students appreciate that.”


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Jennifer Falk
Jennifer Falk is director of digital communications at Mercer. She edits and writes feature stories for The Den and examines web data and analytics to drive content decisions. She also creates and supervises the creation of content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters.