San Jacinto College renovated libraries offer students variety of new services and technology

09.03.2014 | By Jeannie Peng-Armao

San Jacinto College libraries at the South and Central Campuses have received major facelifts with spacious study and instructional areas, as well as some new additions to enhance student learning.

The libraries are now where the past meets the present with designs that hint of the old yet complement the contemporary. The bold color scheme of the libraries envelope the workstations to designate their purpose.

Lee Davis Library at the Central Campus, the oldest of the two libraries, kept elements of its Mid-Century architecture through the renovation to meet the needs of today's technological advances and learning culture. Karen Blankenship, library director, said it was important to respect the original architecture and keep some of the original furniture.

"The architects really understood this," said Blankenship. "It was important to create areas where the students would feel comfortable and want to linger. The novice learner will make use of the student success center, and the more independent student or those looking for a quiet study area will move to the second floor."

Blankenship added that the library now houses the Honors lounge and student success center that includes four group study/tutoring rooms. Students have access to an additional 14 study rooms within the 55,254-square-foot-building, which also contains a reference desk, library instruction lab, computer lab, and copy and printing stations. Updates of the electrical system, heating and air conditioning, and plumbing were done for energy efficiency. Fritted glass was added to the front of the building to cut down on the heat and the light.

The Parker Williams Library at the South Campus added the student success center, writing center, and math lab, along with a renovated library instruction lab, computer lab, copy and printing stations, and a reference desk. The 38,000-square-foot library is now home to 15 study rooms.

It was renovated according to the learning commons model, where traditional library service is offered alongside proven technologies for student success, noted Rich McKay, library director.

"Our quiet area is upstairs, where our circulating collection is housed. Collaborative services, which naturally involve some distractions, are offered downstairs," said McKay. "The learning commons concept allows these two services to function to their highest potentials in the same building."

McKay said one of the most unique features of the renovations include the brightly colored words, definitions, and quotes from award-winning novelist, David Foster Wallace. Known among word enthusiasts as “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years,” his words appear on the walls of the second floor and throughout the Parker Williams Library.

The San Jacinto College South Campus is located at 13735 Beamer Road in Houston; Central Campus is located at 8060 Spencer Highway in Pasadena. Tellepsen Builders, Gensler, and Rizzo & Associates served as the project architects and consultants for renovation of both libraries. Bay Architects contributed furniture coordination and planning.

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook.