Now that we are reopening the Hillsborough Street entrance to the D. H. Hill Jr. Library in spring 2019 as part of a larger renovation of the library, people have been asking why we ever closed it. The Hillsborough Street entrance to the Hill Library was originally closed in 1990, as recommended by the faculty and student members of the University Library Committee with the support of University Police and the endorsement of the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost. Since then, the only public entrance to the building has been the one facing the Brickyard (while the Hillsborough Street doors have remained in use for special access by persons with disabilities).
The main reason to direct library users to the Brickyard-facing entrance back in 1990 was the proximity of that entrance to the most-used library services such as Ask Us and library computers for student use. Remember, this was well before almost every student had a laptop and cell phone, and before so much information was available online. Students came to the library to consult print books, journals, and indexes and to write their papers.
Also, students studying in the library found walk-through traffic disruptive as people would come in the Hillsborough Street doors and exit onto the Brickyard just to avoid walking around the building. Closing the street entrance was a response to student complaints about this traffic. Today’s Hill Library, through a variety of renovations over the past 30 years, offers a much wider variety of study areas and seating throughout the building than the library did at that time.
The 1990 Hillsborough Street door closure wasn’t an idle decision at that time, but we are excited to be reopening those doors permanently this year. This project—which includes new doors, a secure entrance, and updated landscaping—is scheduled to be completed by the end of the spring 2019 semester. The larger renovation to Hill will begin after graduation in May 2019, adding a new Academic Success Center and several new library spaces on the second and third floors of the bookstacks towers, during which the library entrance on the Brickyard will be closed. The Hillsborough Street entrance will be the only entrance to the Hill Library during the renovation, which is scheduled for completion just before the beginning of the fall 2020 semester. Once the renovation is complete, the Hill Library will have two permanent entrances, the Hillsborough Street entrance and the Brickyard entrance. The library website’s renovation page describes the plan in more detail.