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Renovations Coming to the Joseph F. Smith Library

BYU–Hawaii is updating the campus to further support students in their academic journey. One major building that will undergo renovations in the near future is the Joseph F. Smith Library. The library stands at the center of every student’s life on campus. Because of its significance, BYU–Hawaii has taken various measures to ensure the library’s transition period during renovations is as seamless as possible.

Joseph F. Smith Library at BYUH.

Preparing for Renovations

Hoping to begin renovations later this year, BYU–Hawaii library director Michael Aldrich and his team have already undertaken several projects to prepare the space. “...In the past 10-15 years, there's been some minor shrinkage in the physical collection [of books]. We've gone to more digital. We have over two and a half million e-books available [online].” He continued, “The goal is to make sure the collection is what the students and the faculty will use and want to have.”

Aldrich commented how books that haven't been checked out in 15 years may be better suited for the shelves of local libraries and community members, where BYU–Hawaii is currently donating them. Books no longer needed can also be found on shelves near the library entrance for students and faculty to take for free. Highlighting the preservation of physical books, Aldrich adds, “We want to give the opportunity for the books to have a new home.”

student reading in the library.
Photo by Monique Saenz

The New Space

Though other buildings on campus have been torn down and completely replaced, the library will only lose the southern wing, formerly known as the Wooley Wing. The remainder of the building will undergo renovations. Aldrich addressed the renovation plans, saying, “The primary focus is student space, the second focus is flexibility.” While the total square footage of the library itself will decrease, the functionality and flexibility of each space will increase. Aldrich went on to describe study rooms, work areas, and collaboration spaces that will all be used for various purposes.

The vision for the library includes more fully supporting international students who speak English as their second language, facilitating access to digital books, and “giving students as many options as possible to take what they're learning and apply it in creative ways.”

The renovated library may include new features such as stations for collaborative work, 3D printing and laser etching, and other creative support for students. While plans and policies are still being developed, students can look forward to a library experience that supports both their academic studies and creative pursuits.

Along with the new improvements and added features, Aldrich also hopes to preserve the safe atmosphere that exists in the library. “[Students] feel safe here,” he says, “I want to keep that atmosphere. It's not just physical safety—that's vitally important—but also intellectual safety, social safety, emotional safety.” He continues that he wants students to “have a place that they feel that they can engage with information, which is what we're about, but also their classmates, faculty, and students in a way, they can have open discussions [and] that they feel they can be comfortable expressing views, opinions and most importantly, they can ask questions.”

Joseph F. Smith Library sign
Photo by Monique Saenz


Physical books will continue to get pared down for the next five to six months. Designs are currently being finalized, the permitting process is underway, and the library renovations are expected to begin by the end of 2024. By spring 2025 the renovations should be completed. Once the renovations are finished, the southern wing of the library is scheduled to be demolished in the summer of 2025.

While renovations take place later this year, the library aims to remain open. Aldrich reassures students, “The goal is always to remain available to the students... We'll keep the services as best we can.” Workshops and events will continue to take place, though their locations may change. The library staff along with University Communications will continue to make efforts to keep students up to date with any changes.

Students working in the Joseph F. Smith Library
Photo by Monique Saenz

Existing Resources

Students can already access incredible resources online. “We have 480 or so databases. We have two and a half million e-books. We have hundreds of thousands of journal articles. We have streaming videos we have all these things that students can access. But they don't know about them,” Aldrich said, emphasizing the countless opportunities already at students’ fingertips. These resources are available now and the database will continue to grow. Students are encouraged to look on the library website and familiarize themselves with the collection.

While BYU–Hawaii’s campus will continue to change over the next several years, the mission remains the same. BYU–Hawaii is committed to providing quality education and facilities to students who seek their education here. Students can look forward to the upcoming changes with optimism knowing their best interests are always at the center of each decision made.