On Aug. 16, the Texas State University System Board of Regents approved design development documents for the Albert B. Alkek Library Learning Commons project that will focus on 21st-century learning.

The project, designed by BRW Architects of Dallas, will cost about $8.3 million with funding coming from the new Texas State University System revenue bonds. Construction will begin this fall and substantial completion is expected by spring 2020.

"The emergence of digital technology and 21st-century learning principles is requiring an evolution in the design of library spaces," said Ken Pierce, vice president for information technology at Texas State, in a written statement. "The culture and purpose of these spaces will keep our libraries relevant for decades to come. We are excited to be taking these necessary next steps for the Alkek Library."

The project is a response to shifts in how students utilize the library and services it provides, according to the university. Renovations will repurpose space on the first, third and fourth floors, and expand the existing second-floor learning commons. A full-service cafe with indoor and outdoor seating will also be added to the second floor.

Some of the most visible planned changes include a consolidated customer service area, which will streamline and simplify process to locate research materials and check out equipment. Computer stations will support both patron- and library-owned equipment with convenient printing kiosks. Existing niches and alcoves throughout the library will be repurposed as spaces for meetings and gatherings.

A new makerspace area will allow students to construct functioning prototypes using 3-D printers, numerical control machines and other manufacturing equipment. An "x-reality" center will be home to virtual-, mixed- and hybrid-reality capabilities, and a Geographic Information System center will provide state-of-the-art capabilities in geospatial design and research.

Additionally, a digital design center and video/sound production studios will be constructed. Display areas will showcase artwork by by students, faculty and other artists, according to Texas State.

The learning commons project follows an earlier library renovation project completed in 2017 that paved the way for the current learning commons plan. That renovation included repairs and upgrades of electrical and information technology systems; some mechanical infrastructure components; and removal and replacement of the lower-level roof.