Georgia State’s New Law Library Teaches and Inspires

By Stuffey | January 7, 2020

Twelve years ago, my wife and I were looking to buy our first “together” home. She already lived in a house when I met her, but after four years of marriage we decided it was time to find a place we could truly call “ours.” I remember the real estate agent showing us a couple dozen houses over the course of a few months. We weren’t really in a hurry, so the leisurely pace suited us just fine. After all that driving and browsing, though, we never could find the perfect place.

Each house we saw had certain elements we liked – an office here, an extra bedroom there, a nice kitchen over there. One of the last places we looked at was very nice, but had no garage. “You can always build one if you really want one,” suggested the agent. Well, we thought, if we’re entertaining the idea of building a garage to suit our needs, why not build the entire house to our tastes? That way, we’d be assured of getting everything we wanted. That’s how our decision was made.

New Space, New Feel

There’s nothing like getting in on the ground floor, being able to help shape a space the way you want it. Someone who wholeheartedly agrees with that sentiment is Kristina Niedringhaus, the associate dean for library and information services (and associate professor of law) at the Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta.

“The old law library was on the first floor of the building, and part of it was a converted parking area and loading dock; it was underground,” recalled Niedringhaus. “We really didn’t have any windows. It was kind of long, dark and narrow. The shelving had a very early ’80s vibe. Though it was big, the space felt closed in. So, moving over here, the law school and the faculty made the decision to give us the best space – on the top two floors – to benefit the students.”


WATCH NOW: P2 Talks – Georgia State University Law Library Video

Planning the new space involved some challenges. Dick Beery, a Patterson Pope sales representative on the project, remembers them well. “Because of where the building’s post tension beams were placed, our rails had to cross over them. That required us to lay out our rails properly so that we were able to span those joists. It’s a very precise layout.”

While the client was initially going to go with a mechanical assist shelving system (MA), the added benefits of Spacesaver’s Zero Force Sensor (aka “ZFS safeties”) was a key factor in the client’s ultimately selecting a powered mobile shelving solution instead.

“Given the weight of the law books, the mechanical assist carriages may have allowed for ‘ghost’ or ‘phantom’ drifting as the floor naturally deflected under the load,” added Beery. “Powered systems have a different criteria for deflection and in this case avoided the potential drifting. This change – going from an MA to a powered system – saved GSU many dollars in redesign and structural enhancements.”

By repurposing a portion of the shelving from the old library, the client was able to realize a 25-percent savings in the cost of the new shelving. This, combined with the prevention of the metal ending up in a landfill, meant two wins for the folks at Georgia State. Doing good by the environment is always a positive.

Patterson Pope planners were given a basic rough draft for the new space. Their creativity and savvy bore fruit. While there was a good deal of back-and-forth and plenty of revisions, in the end the design was approved. The end result has created more than a few smiles.

Law Library Shelving

A Law Library to Get Excited About

The new law library opened in the fall of 2015 to rave reviews. Its collection is used not only by students, but by practicing professionals in the community as well. Students of every discipline come to enjoy the space. The law library’s two floors are hugely popular – one being known for encouraging quiet study and the other becoming known as the more social floor.

All told, the new law library boasts more than six-and-a-quarter miles of shelving spanning a footprint of over 4,500 square feet.

“We now have almost 98 percent of the collection in high-density shelving. Consequently, we can fit the collection into a smaller footprint. We’ve been able to free up space for the students,” said Niedringhaus. “We have amazing views of the city, and we have some outdoor terraces. That was part of the reason we wanted the compact shelving on the inside – so that we could give the outside space to the students. It’s quite a difference.”

“I can’t say enough about the work of our planners, and of Project Coordinator Mike Austin, in particular,” added Beery. “When Mike gets involved, it’s going to save me time and the client money on the back end. Anyone who has a special project and doesn’t use Mike is missing out on a tremendous resource.”

Law Library Shelving

The best testament to a job well done is a happy client. “My philosophy about the library is that the most important thing is the services that we offer. We have some amazing librarians that work here,” Niedringhaus said. “Having a nice space creates an area where students want to be. It draws them in and lets us have more face-to-face time with them. That’s just terrific.”

In any building project, “success” isn’t just a matter of using the right products or creating an attractive area. In the end, a great space – be it a law library or a house – is ultimately about feel and functionality. Does the space work? In the case of the Georgia State Law Library, the answer is a resounding yes.

As for our new house? Ha. Eleven years after moving in, it gets a resounding “thumbs up” as well.

For more information on this project, check out the Success Story.



About Stuffey

To say that Stuffey was made for this role would be an understatement. A life long hoarder, Stuffey understands how the Laws of Stuff can wreak havoc in the real world of an organization’s space. Now as part of his reformation, he is committed to passing on to you his secrets in our battle against the tyranny of STUFF.

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