Dwayne Cox, head of Special Collections and Archives, said he remembers when the building, built in 1960 to handle the space limitations of the previous library, doubled in size in 1991.
“The expansion of the building was desperately needed,” Cox said, “but what surprised me was how quickly we filled the space.”
Every year, the staff receives suggestions from students and faculty on how to improve the library.
“I’ve only been here five years—10 percent of the 50 years,” said Bonnie MacEwan, dean of AU Libraries, “but I think this library has constantly changed and responded to the needs of our users.”
Since MacEwan became dean, RBD Library has added various elements to make the building more conducive to learning.
Caribou Coffee, added in 2009, provides students with a quick pick-me-up, while rearrangements of study areas allow students to work alone in rooms or move tables around for group studies.
Perhaps the most notable remodeling is the addition of the Learning Commons, completed this year.
In an effort to consolidate the various student services on campus for easier access, the Learning Commons houses officials from the Office of Information Technology, the Miller Writing Center and Study Partners in one place.
“It’s been very, very popular, full all the time, and people are disappointed when they come in that direction and there’s no place to sit and work,” said Marcia Boosinger, associate dean for public services. “I think the combination of the type of seating, the tables, outlets and lighting makes it conducive to people wanting to be there and be\more productive.”
The library will hit another milestone when its 3-millionth volume is added Nov. 5, the same date that the finished library was dedicated almost three years after then President Draughon broke ground on the facility in 1960.
Several pillars adorned with old photographs and Plainsman articles have been erected near the Mell Street entrance, and the Special Collections and Archives room on the ground floor has several cases filled with materials. Items in the display cases include doodles Draughon drew in his spare time and a story about Harold Franklin, Auburn’s first black student, who enrolled in 1964.
Recent additions to the library have included online databases and collections. Regardless, students still flood the building every day to study.
“I think it’s the quality of the services,” MacEwan said. “People feel we’ve paid attention to user groups and worked hard to create spaces. I don’t think the kind of academia students need will be entirely online.”