Tarik Beaulieu

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Last month, students at York Technical College returned for the spring semester to see the Rock Hill school open the doors of a newly renovated library, with more space and resources.

The new Anne Springs Close Learning Commons officially opened Jan. 13 on the first day of classes, after the old library was closed to students since spring 2018.

The renovations, which cost roughly $10 million and took approximately 22 months to complete, added nearly 12,000-square-feet to the existing library.

However, Dr. Greg Rutherford, president of York Tech, said the planning for the new learning commons took more than a decade.

“When I came here in 2007 one of the topics that was identified — enlisting the faculty, staff and students — was the need to make certain changes to our campus and to have a plan going forward about our campus,” said Rutherford.

“Through that process the concept of a learning commons was developed…(and) that master plan was probably completed in 2008 or 2009.”

The opening of the facility also coincides with the completion of the school’s “Real. Bold. Better.” fundraising campaign, which began in 2016 and raised over $6.5 million, making it the largest fundraising effort in the history of the college.

Jacob Holder
York Tech freshman Jacob Holder goes over his Spanish homework at the new Anne Springs Close Learning Commons, which offers students a number of spaces to gather to study, socialize or relax (photo: Tarik Beaulieu).

With the new library open, students now have a spacious place to gather to complete their work or socialize with friends.

Jacob Holder, a freshman at York Tech, said the biggest difference he noticed is how much more space is available compared to the Student Center (also known as the K Building).

“K Building is a lot smaller and it has a cafeteria style room where everybody used to go if they had time between class. The building had very limited service ability to anybody,” Holder said.

“Now that we have the library with computer workstations, we see a lot more people here. This library is huge. As far as the places you could actually congregate, this library is like four or five K Buildings.”

The new learning commons features study rooms, tutoring sections and a food lounge, so students have everything they need in one building.

“Before you had to go to the (Baxter M.) Hood Center for tutoring on the other side of campus and there were only like one or two study rooms,” said Kaylin Hurayt, a York Tech sophomore.

Victoria Sanders
York Tech freshman Victoria Sanders studies at the new Anne Springs Close Learning Common, which she calls a “good learning environment,” while waiting for her friends to get out of class (photo: Tarik Beaulieu).

There are also recreational spaces, including game rooms where students can play Xbox, PlayStation or arcade games with friends and workout spaces with treadmills to stay active.

“The library really provides a good learning environment where I can focus on my work and if I ever have nothing to do, I can go in the game room and have fun with my friends,” said freshman Victoria Sanders. “Here, everyone has the space to chill, do their work and play games.”

Rutherford said he believes the new learning commons will encourage students to utilize more resources on campus, which should increase student success.

“What we hope will be different is that there would be an addition of pride, enthusiasm, engagement and cross pollination between faculty, staff and students,” Rutherford said.