Edward G. Miner Library’s Reading Room is sporting its first new look in more than 30 years.
Author: Matthew Cook
A view of Miner Reading Room, 2021

Rainy days and a dip in the average temperature have most of the University of Rochester community settling into a more hygge lifestyle. Hot drinks. Blankets. Fleece-lined clothing. Choosing “Play without asking again” when Netflix asks if anyone’s still watching. However, in Gleason Library and throughout Carlson Science and Engineering Library’s first floor, including the new Studio X, patrons are still basking in the warmth of Hot Library Fall, a season that has made its way across Elmwood Avenue.

The Medical Center’s Edward G. Miner Library is giving off some serious heat, and it’s emanating from the newly refreshed Reading Room. It looks good—so good that it’s hard to believe the same space served as Strong Memorial Hospital’s lobby when it opened in 1925. The historic space didn’t become part of Miner Library until 1987, when it was renovated for the first time and where its appearance would remain mostly frozen for the next 34 years.

As a heavily used space that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Reading Room’s wear and tear were showing in all corners. The carpet, which had been replaced once, was not in great shape. Chairs on their second covers were looking ready for a third. Power sources were jury-rigged.

“Everything was piecemeal,” says Jennifer Raynor, director of Miner Library. “The update was just way, way overdue.”

“Refresh” is really the best way to describe the update because it didn’t involve any construction; it was purely aesthetic. And to help the library choose that aesthetic, they surveyed patrons. Some of the counsel they received on furnishings and the new look and feel came from responses to the final survey question that effectively asked, “Anything else?”

Working outlets!

It would be great to have something that doesn’t hurt your butt when you sit there for hours.

More standing tables would be brilliant.

It’s a really stately room. I don’t like the look of very modern furniture in that setting. Keep a traditional style.

Several respondents only used the opportunity to express gratitude.

Thanks for doing this!

I’m glad the library cares about student opinions for the upgrade.

But students aren’t the only Reading Room users. Hospital staff members eat meals and relax in the room. So, it needed to be as comfortable as it was functional.

After a year’s worth of planning (and year-long pandemic delay), the library set out to give the Reading Room its glow-up. A grand reopening event was held from October 4 to October 8. Let's take a quick look at how the space has progressed over nearly a century.

Strong Memorial Hospital's original lobby











Strong Memorial Hospital's original lobby











Post-1987 refresh 
A view of pre-2021 refresh to Miner Reading Room










A view of pre-2021 refresh to Miner Reading Room








Present day
Tables in Miner Reading Room, 2021
View of fireplace in Miner Reading Room, 2021













A view of Miner Reading Room, 2021
A view of Miner Reading Room, 2021












The Reading Room’s new “wardrobe” consists of new carpet, new lighting (preserving many original fixtures), and all new furniture, including study chairs (50), lounge chairs (15), and both sitting and standing tables. And, at one time considered a power desert, the room is now a charging oasis, equipped with 30 charging stations that each have USB and USB C-type ports, plus a standard power outlet.


“It’s kind of a surprise,” says Raynor, “because when you enter through the front doors, it’s still very 1987. Then you go through this long hallway, and you end up in this beautiful, beautiful room.”

The pleasant “surprise” that the Reading Room offers will undoubtedly have patrons wondering when the rest of Miner Library will get the refresh treatment.

Raynor says they have “lots of plans.”

Thankfully, the Reading Room has plenty of comfortable spots to wait on what the future brings.

If you would like to contribute to future Miner Library upgrades, contact Kerrie Merz, senior director of development for the University of Rochester Medical Center, at Kerrie_Merz@urmc.rochester.edu. For questions about or more information on the Reading Room refresh, contact Jennifer Raynor, director of Miner Library, at Jennifer_Raynor@URMC.Rochester.edu.

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