Ribbon-cutting and inaugural events, Traveling (Internationally) While Black: Black Students’ Study Abroad Experiences and Traveling While Black Through the Education System, to be held Feb. 15

Lehigh’s Library and Technology Services has long invested time, resources, and expertise in making Lehigh more accessible, inclusive, and supportive of diverse voices and perspectives. One of the newest and most significant enhancements to these efforts is the addition of a new dedicated area in the Fairchild-Martindale Library, where students, faculty, and staff can study or relax in a welcoming space surrounded by books, periodicals, movies, and other materials that support Lehigh’s DEI and antiracist priorities.

The space, called The LTS CIRCLE -- Community & Inclusion Resource Center: A Library for Everyone -- will open to the campus community in February, 2023.

“We strongly believe that our libraries can keep meeting the challenges of our time by offering services with the utmost respect to peoples' identities and authentic stories,” said Boaz Nadav-Manes, University Librarian. “We want to continue to empower members of the Lehigh community to celebrate and share their uniqueness with others by co-imagining a place where such work is well-suited -- right at the center of our campus, at the center of our mutual attention,” he said.

The CIRCLE will also serve as a multipurpose conversation space for events related to Lehigh’s long-term work toward becoming a more inclusive and antiracist university.

“We co-created the LTS CIRCLE in Fairchild-Martindale Library to affirm LTS’s commitment to creating welcoming spaces where faculty, staff, and students can study and socialize in an environment enveloped by books, art, visual links to digital resources, and information about events that reinforce the message of inclusion.” said Greg Reihman, Vice Provost for Library and Technology Services. “We’re now excited to offer it as a great new resource for studying, for conversation, for programming, and for scholarship that helps promote solidarity, healing, and community.”

Located in the southeast corner of the library adjacent to The Grind @ FML, the CIRCLE will be equipped with wall-mounted digital display panels for presentations and visualization, a collection of readings and other materials curated by Lehigh Library staff, and flexible furnishings to seat up to 50 during special events.

“We’ve imagined the space as an affirming environment where the Lehigh community can embrace their diverse identities and learn to become advocates for antiracism, equity, justice, and inclusivity,” said Jesse Pearson, LTS Director of Administration and Planning. “We’re proud to create this dedicated community space. It’s one more step toward breaking down invisible, racist barriers and shaping a library that is truly for everyone.”

Pearson said the space can be easily transformed to accommodate university DEI talks, book signings, and other events. When not in use for talks and other DEI events, the space will be converted back to an area for students to work and study, he said.

Reihman expressed his gratitude for the library team whose proposal for the space was the inspiration for the CIRCLE, in particular Assistant Director and Education Librarian, Jasmine Woodson, and Engineering Librarian, Phil Hewitt. "The space was developed with input from faculty, staff, and students and in a way that allowed us to realize their vision for an interdisciplinary, co-curricular and inter-departmental hub serving multiple, important purposes, all toward making progress toward inclusive excellence at Lehigh,” he said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on Wednesday, February 15 at 6:00 p.m., followed by the inaugural CIRCLE events, Traveling (Internationally) While Black: Black Students’ Study Abroad Experiences and Traveling While Black Through the Education System, part of a panel series co-sponsored by the Zoellner Arts Center, LVAIC, and Lehigh Libraries. The series runs Wednesday nights in conjunction with the arts center's cinematic virtual reality experience, Traveling While Black, filmed at Washington D.C.'s iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. For more information, visit the Zoeller Arts Center website. The events are free and open to the public.

Renovations to the space are expected to be fully completed by the end of February.