Guests, including community members and state and local officials, were on-hand for the ribbon cutting of the recently renovated John Clayton Fant Memorial Library at Mississippi University for Women.

The completely renovated facility features many state-of-the-art amenities and reorganized spaces.

MUW President Jim Borsig said, “The renovation provides a 21st century library for our campus and the greater community. We could not have done this without state funding, and I want to thank our state and local legislators, as well as members of the IHL Board, for supporting projects such as this that will serve the area for years to come.”

As part of the renovation, Fant Memorial Library is now home to a robotic Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS)—the first in the state and in the region—which currently houses more than 100,000 items. Affectionately known as Athena, The W’s ASRS enables the university to expand its collections without further increasing its physical footprint, making more square footage available for classrooms, meeting rooms, group study rooms, the Connie & Tom Kossen Center for Teaching and Learning, as well as the Beulah Culbertson Archives and Special Collections.

Students and faculty only need to click on the “Retrieve it from Athena” button inside the library’s online catalog for her robotic arms to swing immediately into action. Using an extensive database, one of two laser-guided cranes will locate the material selected, bringing the bin down for the library staff to complete the request.

Dean of Library Services Amanda Clay Powers noted, “Athena allows us to be a new kind of library, able to change as the campus and community change around us. Libraries must always keep an eye toward the future in order to stay flexible enough to meet the needs of today’s university.”

Dr. Thomas Richardson, provost and vice president for academic affairs, added, “The library is the most important building on a university campus. We are excited to have this outstanding facility that will provide state-of-the-art learning resources and spaces for library patrons on campus, as well as serve an ever-growing distance learning community.”

In addition, the two-story library coffee shop, known as Common Grounds, is now in full operation with seating for 100, including both traditional café and patio seating. Common Grounds welcomes the campus and community with a full-service Starbucks coffee menu, adding a new spot to hang out on campus. “Together with the newly designed spaces throughout the library, it is always possible to find the perfect spot for relaxing with a good book, studying for a final exam, or meeting for a group project,” said Powers.

It is the first time since 1969, when the library was built, for the structure to undergo a major facelift. An additional 25,019 square feet was added, making the size more than 61,800 square feet.

The capital improvement project is estimated to be around $20,445,254 as part of the university’s Facilities Master Plan. Nora Miller, senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer, said, “This project has been 10 years in the making, with the planning begun in October 2007. The project has continued to evolve as advances in technology were made over that span of time. We celebrate the grand opening, not the completion of the project. The library has never closed during the process, and it will continue to add information and resources every day.”

For updates on the library, please visit the Fant Memorial Library Facebook page. For details about library hours, please visit or call (662) 329-7332.