Library adds computers, conference rooms

Amy Hamblin

New flat-screen computers, colorful carpeting and a re-designed layout for workstations are just a few examples of the University Library’s plan to spruce up the massive building.

With most of the work completed this summer, workers are putting finishing touches on a new “info commons” to be unveiled between mid-October and early November, said librarian David Bishop. Repairs to the ceiling above the area will be a separate project to be undertaken next summer when fewer students are around.

The university has spent about $800,000 in the past year for library renovations and an additional $125,000 will be used to purchase more flat-screen computers, Bishop said. The refurbished area — to the left of the stairs near the main entrance — aims to attract more students not only with its new look but also with fresh computer software.

“We wanted this to be one-stop shopping,” Bishop said. “We want people to have all the resources of the library in one place.”

On the new computers, staple library cataloging software will be available along with new programs better suited to class projects or assignments. These changes were added so students don’t have to go to specialized sections of the library to use certain software, Bishop said.

Some students have said they appreciate the university spending money on changes they will actually notice, but others said they aren’t sure if the changes are necessary.

“It’s still important to have a nice presentation,” said Stephen D’Incelli, a Weinberg senior who was studying in the reference room. “But it won’t necessarily impact whether students will come here — they still need to study.”

Bishop said he has not yet received any feedback on current changes being made, but past projects, such as the addition of the Plaza Cafe, have been well received by students.

These renovations are part of a multimillion dollar, decade-long plan to “upgrade the appearance and function along with the technology used in the space,” said Sue Budinsky, a project manager for Facilities Management. In the last few years, efforts have intensified to improve the reference room, Core collection and periodicals on the first floor, she added.

All construction was supposed to be done by this fall, but that deadline was pushed back and the work was split into two separate projects — one for the past summer and one for next summer, Bishop said.

Next summer, a small new conference center will be built beside the info commons and the ceiling above the information desk will be replaced. The conference center will serve as an area for students to meet for group projects. Currently, the only rooms reserved for group study are on the first floor of Core.

Indirect lighting eventually will be installed, providing a better environment for computer use, Budinsky said. Lights will be placed on the floor to reflect off the ceiling and illuminate the area.

“Indirect lighting is better because you get an even light spread across your screen,” Budinsky explained. “With direct lighting you get a spot on part of your screen. It’s hard to see the screen because of the glare.”

Bishop said the transformation of the library in his 13 years here “boggles” his mind.

“When I got here, there were enormous rows of card catalogs here ,” said Bishop, pointing to the area where the info commons is. “I take a look a few times a day and every single computer is taken… I hope it is a really fun area for people to work individually and in groups.”

Reach Amy Hamblin at [email protected]