The Shapiro Undergraduate Library may, in part, lose its aesthetic namesake in the coming months. This past Tuesday marked the start of construction for the UGLi’s new updated lobby.
The lobby, which will showcase new technology and seating options, is slated become a study lounge for students in the winter.
Laurie Alexander, the director of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, said the project has been discussed ever since the addition of Bert’s Cafe to the lobby in January of 2008.
“It’s a natural progression to think about the rest of the lobby,” she said.
Alexander said the new lobby is designed to be more open and inviting, adding that clusters of chairs, tables and sofas will surround the circulation desk, which will be located in the center of the area. She said she hopes that as students become comfortable working in the lobby, they will move the furniture around to better suit their needs.
Alexander added that there would be large television screens situated around the room that students will be able to plug their laptops into when working on group projects and other sorts of assignments.
“When you look at the space you’ll see it really promotes collaboration and connection and the technology will support the work that students are already doing,” she said.
Alexander added that the screens would be “a wonderful opportunity” to display student art installations, films or PowerPoint presentations. In addition, the screens will show international news feeds.
In order to design a lobby that best meets students’ needs, Alexander said she and her colleagues held informal focus group meetings with students and surveyed students entering the library for suggestions.
“I started doing discussions with student groups because I really think that it’s really important to hear what students have to say because this is going to be a student space, so I wanted to make sure that the space was reflective of what students wanted to see there,” Alexander said.
The improved lobby will also serve as a venue for poetry readings, speakers and workshops.
“We hope it will be a space that promotes learning and creativity,” she said.
Student opinions on the construction project have been mixed so far.
LSA senior Louise Kane said the construction shouldn’t pose too many issues so long as it’s not a glaring distraction.
“I don’t really think it’s a big deal unless it affects the quietness,” Kane said.
Ricky Kramer, also an LSA senior, said he is excited to see how the lobby renovations will turn out.
“It seems like they’re always doing construction, but I think it will pay off in the end,” he said.
Alexander said she believes that the noise from construction won’t greatly affect students and their studying.
“The undergraduate (library) is actually loud anyway, so I really think noise will be minimal,” she said.
LSA freshman Yanique Foster said she’s not sure the renovations justify the hassle from construction.
“It’s sort of annoying with all the noise that comes with the construction,” she said. “It makes me wonder about the rest of the construction on campus (and) if it’s all that necessary and how much of my tuition money is paying for this.”
The construction for the lobby was funded entirely through donations made by Bert Askwith, a 1931 LSA graduate, who has donated funds to other projects such as Bert’s Cafe and the Askwith Media Library.
Alexander said the new lobby will be named “Bert’s Study Lounge” in honor of Askwith.
The construction to the lobby will start early in the morning and end early in the afternoon each day until its completion, Alexander said. The renovations are projected to be complete by mid-February.
The first step of the construction — building temporary walls around the site to close off the area from library-goers and to redirect traffic around it — has already been completed, Alexander said.
According to the University’s Library website, signs will be put up in the UGLi in order to help students safely navigate the construction site.
There is a temporary entrance next to the driveway near South University Avenue and another one through Bert’s Café, which will remain open throughout the duration of the remodeling process.
The website also notes that while construction is taking place, a temporary circulation desk has been moved to the southwest entrance of the library with another one next to Bert’s Cafe.