Hirst Library to Be Replaced by New PAVA Center

September 13, 2019

Martin Liu

In the next few years, a new Performing and Visual Arts Center will be built on the Upper-School Campus, taking up the building where the Hirst Library and Johnson Gym are currently located. It will serve as a new settlement to the Art Department, which has been scattered all over the place in past years. The library would move to a space beside The Hub area, at the back of the music practice rooms.

The idea of building a PAVA center can trace all the way back to 1978, with the motivation of providing a home for the Art Department. If you take a walk around the Upper School Campus, you’ll find the visual arts studio down in the basement, the music suite and practice rooms in Shumway, the dance studio and band room by the gym and Newhall auditorium in upper Shumway. The Art Department is indeed all over the place, and has needed to be put together for a long time.

The new library will have a much smaller space than that of Hirst Library, which means not all the books can be kept. “Taking care of a library is kind of like taking care of a garden,” says the school librarian, Mr. Richard Kettering. According to Mr. Kettering, much heavier “weeding” work of books has been done during these two years. The process of weeding was normally intended to get rid of items that are obsolete or in poor condition, yet some books of good quality had to be disposed of this time.

Despite its old-styled decoration, Hirst is a very modern library. As a fully automated member of the SELCO system and one of the first libraries that started e-book collection, Hirst sets a great example for other libraries in Minnesota as well as  other states.

The first steps of realizing this long-existed plan included the relocation of the gym and weight room, under the purpose of settling the athletic program entirely in the sports complex. There will be structural work done in the old weight room. The gym would eventually convert into a theater, and the library would become new art studios. 

“The look of this library (Hirst) fits the school,” says Mr. Kettering, “the students here are proud of the heritage of the school… I hope that in the new space, they’re able to preserve this kind of old-school look and feel.”