About Our Facility

Cowles Library has served the Drake community of scholars and students admirably since 1937. Additions and renovations have extended the life of the facility, but the demands of learning in the 21st century require that the facility support the growing needs of Drake.

We envision a library that will support the full range of managing knowledge – access to and development of scholarly resources; a learning center that supports professional services and technology in the context of both a social and scholarly setting; classroom and training areas; and a setting for cultural activities and events. The features taken together will allow the library to sustain its historic – and onging future role, as the academic and intellectual heart of the university.

Current Projects

Facility Planning Process

Cowles Library will be the hub for learning and scholarship at Drake University…by transforming knowledge, learning, and community.

–Cowles Library Strategic Plan (2015)

Project Objectives

  • Master Plan
    • Functional Inventory
  • Concept Design
  • Cost Analysis
  • Project Phasing/Selection


  • Planning process based on utilization of the current 96,000 sqft facility – with no addition.
  • There is funding available for a series of projects, but not a renovation of the entire facility.
  • The current funding MUST be used primarily for student focused functions and services.

Functional Elements Under Review

  • Service and Staff Areas
  • Study and Seating
  • Learning Commons
  • Collections
  • Conferencing and Event Space
  • Partnership Functions

Facility Users Include

  • Primary:
    • Students
    • Teaching Faculty / Staff
    • Library Faculty and Staff
  • Secondary:
    • Guests

Project Participants

The Steering Task Force will use surveys, focus sessions, and briefings to engage with students, faculty, staff, and the community.

The Steering Task Force will use surveys, focus sessions, and briefings to engage with students, faculty, staff, and the community.

  • Architect
  • Steering Task Force
    • Cowles Library
      • Rod Henshaw – Dean
      • Bart Schmidt – Digital Projects Librarian
      • Jordan Flynn – Administrative Manager
    • Drake Finance & Administration
      • Jolene Schmidt – Director, Operations and Support Services
    • Drake Law School
      • John Edwards – Associate Dean for Information Resources and Technology / Professor of Law
    • Drake ITS
      • Clayton Mitchell – Assistant Director, Learning and Technology
    • Drake College of Arts & Sciences
      • Maura Lyons – Professor of Art and Design
    • Drake Students
      • TBD
    • FEH Design


Dates Activities Participants Status
December 2016
December 6th Review Work Session – handoff to FEH
  • FEH
  • Library Management Council
TBD Briefing – Library All Staff
  • FEH
  • All Library fac/staff
TBD Build public facing information website Henshaw/Noble/Taylor In Process
January 2017
By January 13th Feasibility/concept report FEH
To be scheduled Briefings for:

  • Library Fac/Staff
  • Provost/Council
  • Steering Committee
  • Deans Council
  • Marketing/Advancement
  • Student Senate
  • Campus – open session
  • FEH
  • Dean
February 2017
TBD Transition to project/schematic – project/construction timeline
  • FEH
  • Drake
Spring 2017
Start Fund Raising Case Statement
  • Library
  • Development
Integrate Cowles into University Master Plan Facility/Adm


Completed Projects

Drake University Archives

A new research focus for Cowles Library

In conjunction with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin’s decision to donate historical papers and materials from 40 years of service in the U.S. Congress to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Cowles Library was able to accelerate the Archives/Special Collections portion of the Master Plan. Construction began in June 2013 and was completed in October 2013.

Architect's drawing of the entry to the new University Archives

Architect’s drawing of the entry to the new University Archives

Lower Commons / After-Hours

This area, completed in 2012, consists of a shared space throughout the day and late night that includes the Cowles Cafe and serves as a safe, controlled access venue for after-hours study and activities. Social activities in addition to study may occur in portions of this space as special events. The space offers a range of amenities, network access, and collaborative spaces for students, faculty and staff to recharge, relax and interact.