Coastal continues making progress on the new Thompson Library


The new and improved $24 million Thompson Library is planned to be ready to open doors in the spring of 2024. 

University Librarian, Melvin Davis, recently talked about how far the construction of the new Thompson Library has come along. 

After years of planning, the library renovation project finally began earlier in 2022 with a groundbreaking ceremony being held on May 12. Davis said the library is planned to be an expansion of Coastal’s existing library facilities.  

It’ll be a library, but it’s a library in the modern sense,” Davis said.  

He said the library will include all the features of Kimbel Library, along with some new features. Areas like the makerspace and Starbucks will be making a return. 

Our makerspace will move with it,” Davis said, and it’ll include a VR lab and recording studios.” 

He added that services like tutoring and computer support will be located in the Thompson Library as well. Davis said having services centralized will make them more convenient for students. He noted that accommodating the growing student body was one of the driving factors behind the project.  

With growth, you want space,” Davis said. Over the years, we’ve done all kinds of surveys, and requests were always for more study space.” 

He said renovations have been needed for a while. Davis said the current library has been at Coastal since 1977 and has started to show its age. Even still, he said that the old building won’t be demolished.  

Once the renovation is done, Kimbel will be gutted,” Davis said.  

There is a second phase of the project, which he said will involve repurposing the old Kimbel building. After the project is finished, Davis said the building will function as an alternative study space for quiet and focus. Meanwhile, he said the new library will be better for busier and more collaborative work. 

We hope it helps define the spaces better,” Davis said. 

He said prior to the pandemic, Kimbel used to see much more traffic. While the pandemic made those numbers decline, Davis said that the library is returning to more frequent use.  

Before the pandemic, it was very busy, very chaotic over here,” he said. 

Davis mentioned that the pandemic also impacted planning. He said he had heard talks about making an academic enrichment center as far back as 2017, which eventually integrated the library into its plans. Davis said beginning construction was hindered by COVID-19.  

We designed the building, all of that was ready to go, and then the pandemic hit.” Davis said.  

He added that those delays also caused prices to go up. Davis said that the construction of the new building will end up costing roughly $24 million. For the second phase, he said the refurbishing of the old building will cost roughly $15 million. 

Davis said projects like these are also helped through generous donations from figures such as the late John and Barbara Thompson, whose estate donated more than $4 million to Coastal. As such, he said the new Library is being named in their honor.  

Now that the project can continue, he said they estimate it will be completed by spring 2024. 

We expect to be open around October of next year,” Davis said, but the safe bet is spring 2024.”