After months of crowding into elevators and fighting for seating, students studying at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library may soon be at ease.

Construction on Bert’s Café Study Lounge adjacent to Bert’s Café at the UGLi is nearing completion and will likely open after spring break, according to Laurie Alexander, director of the library. Though it will already be available for use, the grand opening of the lounge is slated for March 22.

“We envision it as being (an) inviting and informal environment right when you walk through the doors of the library,” Alexander said.

She added that the space, which has been under construction since October, is intended to encourage student collaboration, especially when using the technology that will be provided.

“We really kind of see it as a place that’s going to promote pure learning and interaction,” Alexander said. “So we’re going to have all sorts of furniture and large display screens.”

The space will also be used as a venue for University events and student group functions, such as poetry readings by students and various speakers and workshops, Alexander said.

Funding for the Bert’s Café Study Lounge came from University alum Bertram Askwith, a 1931 LSA graduate. Alexander wrote in an e-mail interview that Askwith has been supportive of the University ever since he founded his company, Campus Coach Lines, as an undergraduate.

“He is very much focused on undergraduates and how he can help their learning experience,” Alexander said.

The idea for the lounge was developed last year, Alexander said, after she conducted several focus groups asking students what changes they would like to see in the library.

“We heard over and over again that students wanted more places to sit, they wanted flexible furniture, they wanted the ability to work in groups, to plug in their laptop and work collaboratively,” she said. “They wanted a place to showcase their course work on large displays — all those things that you work on all semester long.”

Students also expressed a desire to have a place in the undergraduate library to hear and see international news and events. Alexander said the library will meet this need by providing a “series of international news feeds coming in.”

Alexander said the ongoing construction hasn’t affected students’ use of the library.

“At first there were a few annoyances, like you had to learn how to use a different stairwell,” she said. “But overall, once the students found out what the new space was going to be and that we were doing it in response to their requests, we received a lot of positive feedback about it.”

Alexander added that the construction — which takes place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays — isn’t a distraction for students and doesn’t substantially increase noise levels.

“The undergraduate library … is loud,” Alexander said. “Construction of the lounge was mostly done in the morning and use of the library really increases in the afternoon and evenings.”

However, Engineering sophomore Melanie Croos-Dabrera said because of the construction, she has been avoiding studying at the UGLi.

“Sometimes when we have to schedule study groups, we never pick the UGLi anymore because of the construction in the way,” she said.

Nevertheless, Croos-Dabrera said she’s excited for the study lounge to open.

“Looking at the plans for it, it looks really nice, and I think it will be really beneficial,” Croos-Dabrera said.

Engineering graduate student Chase Estrin said though navigating the library during construction has been a minor inconvenience, he is excited for the new lounge.

“It will be nice to see what it looks like when it’s done,” Estrin said. “I think that more seating in the lounge will be good because there’s not very much of it right now.”

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