Form with function: Richter’s contemporary look embraces modernization

The Otto G. Richter Library, the UM’s core documentary research and study resource center, has recently completed an exciting set of improvements. After $17.5 million worth of major renovations finished in the Spring of 2003, library facilities are now more useful, accessible, and comfortable.
The Dr. Maxwell and Reva B. Dauer Clock Tower is the library’s first dramatic new architectural addition since the building was erected in 1962. The main stairwell is located inside the Dauer Clock Tower. The tower adds energy efficiency to the library with its hurricane-proof glass facade, and provides a breathtaking view of the campus green and colonnade of palms.
Physically impaired patrons will find the renovated Richter Library more easily accessible. An adaptive technology suite was added in addition to the electronic entrance doors and wheel chair ramps that lead into the library. General additions include 13 group study rooms, which provide places for students to work together on the first and second floors.
More attractive interiors and redesigned spaces are also abundant. Notably, comfortable chairs have been added throughout the library. The Meyer Gold Reading Lounge provides a living-room-like atmosphere and features recently acquired books while the William H. Walker, Jr. Reading Area offers a quiet place to peruse journals and magazines.
In keeping with its mission, the Richter Library expanded its research facilities adding the $5 million Robert C. Goizueta Pavilion, completed in Fall 2002, which houses the Cuban Heritage Collection. This collection contains the most in-depth material on Cuban exiles and Cuban-Americans found in the world. The dedication on January 28, 2003 was a major event for the library. President Shalala thanked the donors and underscored the importance of the collection for the South Florida community and for researchers worldwide.
The library has also added new electronic facilities. With the new Information Commons on the first floor, completed in Spring 2003, the library now has 128 computers and 10 printers for students to use free of charge. The most important features of the Information Commons are the quality of service provided there and the convenient location and easily accessible computers. The area is staffed by both Research and Educational Services librarians and Information Technology User Assistants, allowing patrons to instantly obtain technical and research assistance. The first, second and third floors of the library are part of the University’s wireless network and enable students who have registered their laptops with the UM Department of Telecommunications to access the Internet without a phone line.
The renovated third floor is the home of the Information Literacy Lab. Funded by a gift from the University of Miami Alumni Association, the lab is a state-of-the-art instruction facility designed and operated to support the Library’s mission of teaching research skills that encourage and support critical thinking and lifelong learning, key components to information literacy. The third floor also houses the Digital Media Lab which provides media equipment, including software and computers to create information with digital and video content, web design, animation, photo design, video editing, and DVD creation. User assistants are available to help with the equipment. Students wishing to use the equipment in the lab may do so by appointment.
The new additions enhance Richter’s status among its peer research libraries. A member of the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for Research Libraries, and the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, the Richter Library houses 1.8 million volumes, more than half of the University’s total collection. As the largest library in the University system, the Richter Library houses collections to serve all disciplines in arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. In addition, the building serves as a Federal Depository Library, where millions of U.S. federal government publications augment the library’s holdings. Richter also collects documents from international organizations such as the World Bank, United Nations, and Organizations for Economic Cooperation and Development. Richter’s branch libraries include the Paul Buisson Reference Library at the School of Architecture, the Judi Prokop Newman
Information Resource Center at the School of Business, and the Albert Pick Music Library. Other University libraries are Calder Library serving the medical school campus, the Rosential School Library serving the Key Biscayne campus and the University of Miami Law Library on the Coral Gables campus.
The University Libraries’ web site serves as the access point for the University’s vast collection of electronic resources. The homepage, often the first point of contact a student has with the library, offers easy site navigation and utilizes a new Flash-based technology. The Richter Library is one of the first research libraries in North America to implement the technology. The home page also links students to valuable services such as Electronic Reserves and Interlibrary Loan. Easily accessible both on and off-campus, students use Electronic Reserves to access required reading materials for class.
Through the Interlibrary Loan service, items not owned by the University Libraries are borrowed from other libraries. Many articles requested can be delivered electronically. through the Internet. An online chat service offering research assistance is available in the as is SFX software, an innovation that provides faster, more efficient access to online information.
For more information, visit or call 305-284-2210.