Howard Community College leaders dedicated the school's renovated library Monday, with Board of Trustees chairman James Truby calling it the "new and improved hub" of the school.
The $19 million project took three years to complete, resulting in upgraded study space, technology and laboratories. The revamped facility is named after the late state Sen. James Clark Jr. of Howard County.
Originally called the Learning Resources Center, the building was the first to be built at the college. When it was completed in 1970, it housed the school's entire operation.
"No doubt about it, the world has changed since this building opened," HCC President Kate Hetherington said, adding that cows once grazed on pastures visible from the library.
The roughly 75,000-square-foot building now includes a library with 18 study/work areas; 12 information technology classrooms; laboratories for computers, engineering, anatomy and physiology, and information literacy; a wellness center; a cultural arts center; an international education office and more than 50 offices.
The renovation was completed in phases so that the library and other offices in the building could remain open.
At Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony, County Executive Kenneth Ulman applauded the popularity and affordability of the college, where roughly a quarter of the county's high school graduates enroll.
The college's spring semester enrollment is 18 percent higher than in the spring semester of 2009.
Ulman also spoke of the college's future and how it could play a role in the planned redevelopment of downtown Columbia.
"HCC is so close and to be able to tie HCC in - whether it be transportation or student housing - you're such an important anchor institution in Howard County," he said.
Martha Clark, daughter of the longtime senator, asked those in attendance to rededicate themselves to a spirit of service she said her father embodied.
The county contributed nearly $10.6 million to the renovation, with the state paying $8.5 million.