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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
UVU student body president Joseph Watkins barrels through a wall to open a connection from the existing Liberal Arts Building into the new Digital Learning Center. Other student body officers broke open a few holes with a sledgehammer before Watkins smashed completely through. The new five-floor facility has 190,000 square feet.

PROVO — Utah Valley University's new Digital Learning Center is so big, so beautiful, so technologically advanced, it may actually inspire people to get excited about doing homework.

At least, that's what the people who toured the library Monday said.

"It makes me want to be a student," said Linda Topham, 66, who lives in Orem. "I'd love to study here. It's just beautiful."

The Digital Learning Center opens for service today, coinciding with the school's official transition to university status. President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will offer the dedicatory prayer at today's 10 a.m. ceremony.

A group of current and former student body presidents opened the library for public tours Monday morning by tearing down the wall dividing it from the Liberal Arts Building. They used sledgehammers.

Current student body president Joseph Watkins, 24, was so excited about the Digital Learning Center he threw his whole body through the wall.

"To put it lightly, this school needed a new library," he said. "Now that we have it, it's just beyond anything I imagined."

About 15,000 people made the trek through the 190,000-square-foot building during the day on Monday.

The library has five floors, 33 group-study rooms, 11 seminar and computer rooms and several reception areas.

All the study rooms are equipped with traditional white boards and projectors. In one room, though, those things have been replaced with picture books and toys, so student parents can keep their children busy while they study.

"It's a great idea to have a family study room. I can't believe other schools haven't thought of it," said Barbara Diamond, who lives in Lehi. "It seems like it would be essential in Utah County."

Diamond came to see the Digital Learning Center with her daughter, Erin, a freshman at UVU. They were most impressed with the center's lighting.

The library has 42,000 square feet of exterior glass, flooding the building with natural light. Nearly any vantage point in the building affords a view of either Mount Timpanogos or Utah Lake.

Kamee Bentley, who plans to start taking classes at UVU in the fall, basked in the sunlight reading while people milled around checking out the library's features.

"It's quiet," said Bentley, who lives in St. George. "It's comfortable. It's spacious. It's just a great place to read."

The Digital Learning Center is certainly a big upgrade from the school's old library.

It had only four group study rooms. It was so crammed with books and students that "people were almost on top of each other," said Jason Wright, 24, a junior at UVU studying digital media.

"I avoided the library as much as possible," he said. "It will be a lot easier to get what I need to get done in this new library."

It took three years of lobbying for funding, a year of planning and two years of building to make the Digital Learning Center a reality.

After spending nearly a month transferring the school's collections — nearly 215,000 volumes — from the old library to the new Digital Learning Center, library employees are ready to get back to their usual work.

There are still a few things missing: two circulation desks and about 100 computers. But Mike Freeman, UVU library director, said the Digital Learning Center will start lending out books, laptops and cameras right on schedule.

"It's just wonderful to be done," Freeman said. "We're just excited to get into the building and go back to doing what we do best — helping students get a quality education."

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