KSL 1996 to Today: Celebrating 25 Years of the Library of the Future

4. Kelvin Smith Library in Action

“Kelvin Smith Library has enhanced our way of doing our work. My colleagues and I are now in one place
where we can share our skills with the campus.”

E. Gail Reese Retired Former Associate Director of Kelvin Smith Library and member of Case Western Reserve’s Library of the Future Committee in On Reserve: The Magazine of Kelvin Smith Library, Spring 2006

Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) operates on four floors of approximately 150,000 square feet. Original features like compact shelving and an underground fiberoptic and electrical network made KSL a futuristic library. More important than a traditional exterior appearance or pleasant interior amenities is KSL’s flexible design, flexibility in anticipation of the future. This flexibility is evident in several adaptations to the building and the operations over 25 years including the shift away from a physical reference desk to offering virtual reference and the continual addition of new technologies.

Since opening, KSL has shown a strong trajectory of commitment to innovation and growth in services, instruction, campus partner support, collection access, and dynamic events.  In the year 2019 alone KSL welcomed around 408,000 visitors, 49,000 items were checked out, 1.4 million ebooks were accessed, 296 Research Guides were available, and 1.73 million articles were downloaded from the library’s databases. Also in 2019, The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) named KSL the university recipient of the 2019 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award. The award recognizes the staff of a university library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution. Three of the library’s noted achievements were the Freedman Fellowship for Digital Scholarship program, which has awarded more than $90,000 to faculty and student research since 2010; using space assessment data and feedback to make continuous changes to the library; and KSL’s hosting of the National Personal Librarian Conference.


In 2021 CWRU celebrates KSL’s 25 years of service and dedication to the campus community. Though technologies and hairstyles change, KSL’s mission as the knowledge and creativity commons of Case Western Reserve University remains strong. This spirit is embodied in the physical and conceptual design of KSL as well as its working operations. KSL, the library of the future, is more than a building. KSL’s essence is its dedicated staff and services to the students, instructors, faculty, and community partners.


Past Programming and Initatives


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