New Year, New Library


Photographer: Cela Cashel

Theresa Sholy, Editor-in-Chief

With every new school year comes much excitement: a new freshman class, beginning of the year welcome traditions such as Hey Day, catching up with friends, and more. However, this school year in particular brought with it something Nerinx doesn’t habitually see: a newly renovated library. Julie Padberg-White, a Nerinx alumna, was the architect for this project and led multiple focus groups to get a feel for what it was the Nerinx community needed.

Because one of her biggest priorities was to get feedback from the users of the library, Padberg-White’s focus groups included select students, faculty, and staff to discuss and deliberate the features of the new space. Ms. Ullery, library assistant and parent of a Nerinx student, said, “A major focus of the first meeting was dreaming big. Without being concerned about cost, we could describe our ideal library.” Though they had no imaginative restrictions, Ms. Ullery did say that primary consideration was given to the space where the students would work, study, and gather. She told of how Padberg-White would lead an open discussion with specific questions, but allow the conversation to flow freely. Ms. Hoeynck of the English department added, “We also had discussions within our specific groups and shared our thoughts.” She mentioned some of these thoughts, ranging from what we see today in the enlarged windows to big dreams such as a coffee bar and a lofted area. From these discussions, the group conferred and brought their ideas together in order to form a more definite idea of what the space would encompass.

Ms. Hoeynck confirmed that the group favored a mid-century modern design with a stress on Loretto values. On how she embraced this, Padberg-White explained, “I wanted the space to reflect the Loretto tradition of respecting the environment while being comfortable and unique and a space the students would want to be in.” This is manifested in every element of the renovations. She explained the use of green fabric as not only the school color but also to reflect nature; she reupholstered the existing mid-century chairs to update them while still reflecting the original design. Organic patterns are seen in the modern ‘wing’ chairs, and the teal-blue in the carpet draws from the color of the theater lobby and the school entry, while also suggesting water, to name just a few carefully and thoughtfully planned out details.

However, that is not where the job ends. In addition to the new study and display areas, Padberg-White and her team are working on the Legacy Wall, which is to reflect the history of the Loretto order. Also, because of delays in parts and materials, there are still some “minor tweaks” that she is working to finalize. “It’s not fully complete,” stated Padberg-White, “but I am happy thus far.”

Senior Claire Golden, another member of the focus group, agreed, saying she feels that students were heard and taken seriously during these meetings, since many of their suggestions, such as more windows, are present in the new library. She exclaimed, “I absolutely love the new library, and it is exactly how I pictured it. I could not be happier with how this turned out!” And, as students constantly filter in and out of the new space, smiles on their faces and homework in their hands, this seems to be the general consensus of the newly renovated library.

Photos courtesy of Julie Padberg-White: