Long-awaited renovations to the entrance and second floor of Gelman Library are on track to be unveiled before the start of the fall semester after several years of students lobbying for upgrades to the building.
Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia Knight said students walking through the second floor would see a transformed space, adding that construction was coming together both inside and outside. Furniture to dot the expanded student space will be moved onto the floor shortly, she said.
The $16 million renovations will move the entrance of the building to Kogan Plaza with stairs leading to a redone second floor which will hold the entrance and circulation desks. There will also be an outdoor patio, new computers and a multimedia center available for student use.
Knight said the project was on track to meet its $16 million budget, but that a specific date had not been set for the opening of the newly renovated space.
“I think this is a good example of a project that was well-defined, and there was a vision, and we were able to put a budget to it, so I think we’ll be right on target,” she said.
The library has remained open despite construction, though the its wear and tear continued this spring after a heat wave and failed cooling system closed the library twice as temperatures reached 90 degrees inside.
The Writing Center, an important component of the newly renovated second floor, will receive new technology, though the tutoring hub’s director Christy Zink said she did not know what specific new technology the center might use. She added that the design of the new center would be flexible to adapt to future learning models.
“Some parts of the space offer floor-to-ceiling glass windows, making the Center bright, airy, and welcoming, and new, colorful paint and fabrics in the space will add to the vibrancy of the Center,” Zink said in an email.
In April, the University hired Geneva Henry, a digital expert from Rice University, to fill the role as head librarian. Henry begins her tenure July 1 and will likely oversee increased digitization by the library.
Next, administrators will plot out how to renovate the first floor, where library patrons now enter. The Winston Churchill Archives will move onto the floor, and Knight said her office will work with the project team and Gelman staff to determine the best way to use space not used for the collection.
“I don’t know exactly how they’ll lay out the additional space, but it will be an effort to make the space that is left on the first floor when the entrance moves up as useful as possible,” she said.
The renovations started after student lobbyists pushed for more and improved study spaces in the building that has been criticized for years. Student Association leaders pushed for improved space, and the Class of 2010 chose for their senior gift to help fund renovations for the library.
Despite renovation of the library’s facilities, top librarians from the University of Virginia and Columbia University issued a report this year saying Gelman is in “very bad shape” because of funding for research collections. Administrators declined to provide details of the report, which is one component of a larger review being compiled by the library strategic review committee.
This article appeared in the June 11, 2013 issue of the Hatchet.