Facilities Master Plan – Frequently Asked Questions


The master plan is a long-term framework to guide the development of the physical library spaces on campus. In 2016, the Libraries were given the opportunity to develop a long-term facilities master plan that would guide the future of the library spaces on campus, while looking at how the libraries can transform to meet the ever changing demands of our users. While it is not an architectural design plan, it does provide a conceptual plan to shape our future physical presence on campus.

What was involved inThe Libraries coordinated with UW–Madison Facilities Planning & Management, UW System, Wisconsin Division of Facilities Development, brightspot strategy (New York), and Engberg Anderson Architects (Madison / Milwaukee) on the development of the plan, in addition to meeting with our campus stakeholders (faculty, staff, students) throughout the process to gather data and key information.

Final decisions are directed by the Vice Provost for Libraries, the Provost, and the Chancellor. Their decisions are informed from broad input from the departments, shared governance groups, as well the needs and strategic direction of the Libraries. The master plan is a 25-year, long-term plan. Financing for the projects need to be addressed, as well as the ongoing mapping out of architectural plans, continued collection planning, and continued coordination with our campus partners to understand, review, and address the needs of all of our users.

The libraries value the input of our users, and respect the diverse ways in which they do their work. As we move forward through this long process, the libraries will continuously engage the campus community.


Throughout 2017, the project team held on-campus meetings, workshops, focus groups, town halls, one-on-one interviews, information gathering and listening sessions, surveys, and presentations in an effort to gather as much data as possible from campus constituents (faculty, students, library staff, campus staff, and the general public).

  • See our detailed list of ongoing extensive engagement efforts.
  • December 2016 : Undergraduate town hall, Graduate student focus group, faculty focus group
  • January 2017: Drop-in interviews
  • February 2017: Faculty survey sent via email to all current faculty
  • March 2017: Graduate student and faculty workshop
  • April 2017: Campus town hall meetings
  • Summer 2017 update
  • December 2017: Campus forums
  • Minutes from the November 29, 2017 Design Review Board can be found here.


The master plan calls for a six-hub library model on campus:

  • College Library
  • Memorial Library
  • Steenbock Library
  • A New South Library
  • The Law Library
  • Ebling Library (Health Sciences)

Additionally, the recommendations also call for:

  • Continuing library consolidation effort and filling the Verona Shelving Facility
  • Building an additional off-site (preservation-quality) shelving facility

  • New or upgraded facilities to improve user experiences and staff functionalities
  • New or upgraded facilities that offer disciplines the ability to better interact with and showcase the information, materials, and resources within their collections
  • New or upgraded facilities that allow for the continued growth of print collections
    • Preservation-quality shelving facility provides better environmentS to safeguard long-term access to materials
  • Long-term maintenance cost savings to campus that allow for investment in library collections

Next Steps

We understand the importance of collections to research, teaching and learning.  We also understand the need to balance and prioritize resources so that we can provide access to the variety of formats required today. The Library’s Collection Plan (2012) guides our decisions for what should remain on open shelves (high-use items, browsed collections), what could be relocated to shelving facilities (low-use, available online, in areas where stacks are full, large sets) and what could be withdrawn (perpetual access online, available through shared print).

Usage data will be used in conjunction with user input to help inform our decisions on what is kept on open shelves and what is sent to off-site shelving. Circulation data is only one criterion, and the libraries understand and appreciate the importance of serendipitous discovery of books through browsing. The libraries are committed to working closely with departments to ensure the appropriate materials are retained on open shelving.

While the master plan calls for a reduction in on-campus shelving, as the libraries work toward determining the implementation of the plan, engagement with faculty, departments and governance groups is vital to ensuring the right decisions are made about which materials are moved off site.

Where items are sent depends on their focus, type of material, usage, as well as what location has the space to absorb the materials. See more information on accessing consolidated collections here.

Yes! It is entirely possible and intended to design libraries so as to accommodate the multidisciplinary use of spaces, collections and resources AND to preserve browsing of print collections. We fully understand that the browsing of print collections remains a fundamental tool for discovery and research.

While the master plan took into account the work being done through the consolidation project, the need (and planning) for consolidation has been in place for years. The related work on consolidating our libraries began long before the facilities master plan process became an opportunity. The Library has more opportunities to collaborate with campus departments to reimagine how teaching, learning, research, and libraries intersect, due to the ongoing efforts to better align library services, collections, and spaces on campus.

Consolidation is a broader or more comprehensive concept than just physical space. It takes into consideration the four following facets, and decisions are made in conversation with departments.

  1. Concentrate print collections using a comprehensive print management program.
  2. Repurpose spaces vacated by library services for academic uses and collaborative activities.
  3. Redeploy staff expertise to deliver a more robust continuum of support to users, and strengthen library liaison roles to support campus priorities in research, teaching, and learning.
  4. Establish a new service model that integrates support for new forms of scholarly communication and related needs.

Click to see more detailed information, including Collection Usage, Space Usage, and other Service statistics