St. John Fisher University Announces Major Library Renovation, Largest Capital Project in Institution’s History

October 30, 2023

St. John Fisher University will soon begin work on a multimillion-dollar library modernization and renovation project, the largest capital project both in scope and investment in the institution’s history. Construction will begin in early 2024 with plans for completion by summer 2025.

A rendering of the exterior of Lavery Library.

Lavery Library, which opened in 1975 and is named for Fisher’s longest serving president Rev. Charles J. Lavery, CSB, has served generations of Fisher students for close to 50 years. In 2021, Fisher contracted with Brightspot, a planning firm that specializes in creating spaces to enhance the student experience at colleges and universities, to conduct a thorough study of the library space and services, as well as the needs and expectations of the students, to better understand the current state and identify opportunities for the future. Their work included interviews with University leadership, faculty and staff, and students; a series of feedback workshops open to the campus; and a peer comparison report that studied and compared Fisher with eight peer institutions. The report recommended programmatic shifts in the way in which the library delivers its services today, with a focus on more coordinated services and a better use of the space.

Following the study, Fisher partnered with HOLT Architects, an Ithaca-based firm with an expertise in the higher education vertical, whose design was guided by Brightspot’s findings. The design includes the creation of a bright, welcoming public lobby and lounge space; a sharpened book collection that will meet the needs of today’s curriculum; the centralization of a suite of student services including Fisher’s Center for Career and Academic Planning, Student Accessibility Services, and the Writing and Tutoring Center; and the transformation of student work spaces to include increased seating, flexible areas for truly quiet study, collaborative areas for group work, and technology rich classrooms.

“This is a historic project for the University, one that reimagines an iconic campus building and expands its purpose to provide current and future students with coordinated services and resources,” said Dr. Gerard J. Rooney, president of the University. “The transformation of the physical space will mirror the supportive culture already established in the Fisher educational experience.”

Fisher also recently received $5 million from the New York State Higher Education Capital (HECap) Matching Grant Program which will be used toward the funding of the project. HECap provides matching grants to private, not-for-profit colleges and universities across the state for projects that create construction jobs and drive investment in communities. A competitive application process, Fisher was one of 30 institutions in New York state to receive this round of HECap funding and received the maximum award.

“This project will create a library that will be a space that nurtures intellectual discovery and academic achievements, and instills a passion for lifelong learning, fostering student success which is what we aim to do each and every day at Fisher,” said Melissa Jadlos, director of Lavery Library. “I am proud to say that the library has always served as a welcoming hub on campus, and the renovated space will allow for an even bigger impact on the student experience for today’s students and for generations to come, creating a strengthened hub for all to create, connect, learn, and succeed. It has been an exciting project to be a part of thus far.”

Finally, and following a robust bidding process, Fisher chose Pittsford-based construction management company Hamilton Stern Construction as the contractor for the project.