Library reopens after construction and delays

After six months of construction and delays, the revamped St. Augustine Hall officially reopens today for student and faculty use.

Maylone said maps and diagrams of the rearrangements in the library would be made available to direct people to where they need to go.

“This has been a very long and trying few months for our students, faculty and staff and throughout this whole process, everyone has been helpful and cooperative,” she said. “I ultimately hope the enjoyment and use of the new library will act as a reward for everyone’s patience during this process.”

Since the beginning of the semester, students have used various locations on the library’s first floor as study space including the west side of the Academic Commons and the Writing Center as the finishing touches were being put to the building’s basement, third and fourth floors. Room 277A in Bent Hall was also used as a substitute study space as construction went on.

Problems with riser pipes, responsible for carrying water throughout the building to provide air conditioning, caused the library to miss its scheduled mid-August re-launch and instead open months later.

The second floor, however, will remain closed because the University is planning to start renovating the second floor into additional office space for professors, replacing the windows of the library, remodeling the lobbies on the first floor and basement and the elevators during the summer of 2009 and finish in time for the fall semester.

Some of the more noticeable reconstruction in the library has taken place on the third and fourth floors, which are now identical in layout.

Both floors feature a redesigned main lobby with a new paint job and new bathrooms. The third floor lobby will host a central library service desk, which will be used to handle references and circulation, checking-out books, inter-library loans and other inquiries. These services were previously divided between the second and third floors.

Meanwhile, the fourth floor service desk will have members from the library’s technical support staff available to help with electronic issues.

For students who need further assistance, there are also consultation rooms next to the service desk where library staff can offer one-on-one help.

Both floors will retain their North and South wings and each section has 12 new computers, a printing room, new study corrals and tables for individual study as well as round tables for groups of students.

The wings also include condensed collections of books with large shelves in rows down the middle of each side and shorter shelves around the sides.

The books not placed on the upper floors have been relocated to the basement and are available for use upon request.

Theresa Maylone, University librarian, said the decision to showcase a smaller collection of books was made to free up more space.

“There was a plan to separate the collection between books in a browsing and closed section and we are using this method to give students more study space, computers and other requests noted by students in our surveys,” she said.

Books on the upper floors were chosen based on their condition, date of publication, the amount of copies available and how in-demand they are, Maylone said.

However, she also said there is no guarantee that a book in the closed section will remain there forever.

“The placement of the books are not permanent,” she said. “If we find that a book from the closed stacks has been called back frequently in a short span of time, we will add it to the browsing section.”

Maylone said stricter rules would be put in place to keep quiet study areas silent.
She added that the responsibility of maintaining order would not solely fall on the shoulders of the library’s staff.

“We are going to be very strict with our new policies, but, this is an academic institution, and we will be relying on students to help in maintaining the quiet in study spaces,” Maylone said.

Along with improvements geared toward students, faculty members also get to enjoy the library’s new features.

The basement and fourth floors now have individual workstations complete with a desk, computers and new furniture.

Multi-purpose rooms equipped with projectors and additional computers are stationed on the third and fourth floors. These areas will be used for conferences and presentations.

University library staff seem to be unanimous in their approval of the renovated building.

Carol Rohe, a library technical assistant, said she felt the changes gave the space a “more refreshing look.”

“It’s lovely,” she said. “Everything is so much neater and brighter.”

Patricia O’Keeffe, coordinator of the Academic Reading Program, said she feels the renovations will be more beneficial to students.

“Everything looks nice and comfortable,” she said. “I think students will find the new layout helpful and more conducive to learning.”

Parth Thaker, who works as in the library circulation department and is a fourth-year student, said he also approves of the remodeling.

“There’s a lot more study space, more computers and the place just looks better,” he said.

Thaker said he anticipates confusion as the St. John’s community adjusts to the revised library layout.

“The first couple of weeks may be a little crazy, but this is all apart of a process,” he said. “When people get used to it, things will be much easier and less chaotic.”