Science & Engineering Library renovation honors leaders, aims to build community among students in STEM

Four students stand around a table. Two are working with tools.

Students working in the new makerspace at the Science & Engineering library.

Campus leaders pose in front of an image of a nebula at the library dedication event.

Leaders at the dedication event. Left to right: Elizabeth Cowell, Kathryn Sullivan, Sandra Faber, Cynthia Larive. 

With newly remodeled floors named in dedication to two trailblazing women in STEM and a new makerspace, the Science & Engineering Library is positioned to build and support community among STEM students at UC Santa Cruz.

Following a dedication event on Friday, November 4, the library’s top floor is now named after astronomer and UCSC Professor Emerita and UC University Professor Sandra Faber, and is inspired by her domain of study: space. The first floor is now named for alumna Kathryn Sullivan, an astronaut and earth scientist who has been called “the world’s most vertical person” for having been the first person to both walk in space and reach the earth’s deepest ocean point. This floor is inspired by the sea – both themes are reflected in the decoration of the spaces.

In naming the two floors after successful women scientists, the Science & Engineering Library is designed to inspire women and students from historically marginalized backgrounds who are pursuing STEM degrees and careers.

“Both Sandy and Kathy have helped UC Santa Cruz become a place where students, irrespective of identity or background, can enter a space of learning, such as this library, and dream about what is possible – and then go out and do it,” said Elizabeth Cowell, UCSC’s university librarian, at the dedication event.  

The Faber third floor initially opened in January of 2020, but was then closed until July 2022 due to the pandemic. During this time, the first floor renovations were planned and executed, supported by the empty campus but stymied by supply chain difficulties. 

Improvements to the library, which were guided by extensive feedback from representatives of the campus community, including students, include moveable furniture, increased outlets, collaboration spaces with whiteboards, compact shelving to allow for more efficient use of space and growth of the collection, and the new makerspace called the Digital Scholarship Innovation Studio. A mix of quiet areas and collaborative spaces are available to suit students’ needs.

“Libraries might not be the first things that come to mind when contemplating student success, but they should be,” said UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive at the dedication event. “The great University libraries of today, like ours, are assembled with students in mind. This space functions almost as a student union – it’s a safe, functional, and flexible space for undergraduate and graduate students. Student success is all about removing barriers, and I am excited to say that this new library space, and the library staff inside it, do just that.” 

The Digital Scholarship Innovation Studio, located on the first floor, is a makerspace available to all students, staff, and faculty. The space was designed to democratize access to technology, increase collaboration, and foster open experimentation and innovation.

The Innovation Studio offers a variety of equipment, including two types of 3D printers, four laser cutters, 3-D modeling tools, a Realfiction Dreamoc Diamond display for holographic visualizations, and the training to use the tools. 

The Science & Engineering library now hosts one of two laptop kiosks on campus, which increases access to technology by offering students Dell laptops to be checked out for free on a first-come, first-served basis for up to four hours. The building also now has several gender-neutral restrooms and a lactation room. 

“Students have been able to return to (somewhat) normalcy this year, and part of that is meeting your friends or study partners at the library,” Cowell said. “We are so thrilled that we could provide students with an updated Science & Engineering library that meets their needs."

The second floor has yet to be named. To learn more about naming opportunities, contact Joop Rubens, director of development, by phone at 831-459-5870 or by email at