Study spaces are an essential part of college campuses, and Georgetown University doesn’t have enough. To increase the total number of students that can be accommodated by university study spots, Georgetown should renovate Lauinger Library to increase its capacity.
While every student on campus is given a desk and a chair in their residence, everyone has different study habits, so the university cannot expect everyone to be able to study successfully in their rooms. Therefore, sufficient on-campus study spaces outside of residences are necessary.
Even though Georgetown has three main campus libraries available to undergraduates, these are not large enough to adequately accommodate Georgetown’s student body. Blommer Science Library, Lau and the Bioethics Research Library have a total of 1,384 seats, according to Director of Library Assessment Emily Guhde in an email to The Hoya. Even if every seat in every library is being used, these spaces cannot support even one quarter of the 7,459 student undergraduate population. The lack of space in campus libraries makes it especially difficult for students to find spots to study at times when most students have more work to do, such as midterm and finals seasons.
While the university opened the Healey Family Student Center in 2014 as a new study space and has tables and seating areas in the Leavey Center, Regents Hall and the McDonough School of Business in which students can work, such alternatives do not make up for the lack of library space. Students still struggle to find seats on campus during busy study days, and time that could be spent studying is wasted trying to find a table at any of the study spaces.
Melissa Deng (SFS ’23) described an unnecessarily difficult search for a place to work during last month’s finals season. “My friends and I walked around campus trying to find a place to study, and thought we had hit the jackpot when we arrived at the ICC to find virtually no one there,” Deng wrote in a message to The Hoya. However, this spot was not equipped as libraries are to support students studying at all hours. “Although there were spaces to sit down in the galleria, it was so incredibly dark that it was hard to concentrate and even read our notes,” Deng explained.
A lack of study spaces has plagued the university before. Lau was built in the 1960s, when the university had the potential to lose its accreditation because of a lack of study spots for its growing student population. The library remains the largest study space on campus and has 1,134 seats available to students, according to Guhde. But the student population has since grown, and the space now is not even large enough to accommodate a single undergraduate class, according to an August 2014 Hoya article. Lau was a valuable addition to campus when it was finally dedicated in 1970. But Lau was the solution to Georgetown’s study space problem in 1966, and in 2020, students need and deserve a new one.
In 2009, Georgetown hired an architecture firm to draft a master plan for Lau renovations that would have doubled its capacity to hold students, but the plans have yet to be finalized more than 10 years later. The university should take immediate action to provide students with an adequate amount of spaces to study on campus.
Once again, the university has tentative interest in increasing Lau’s capacity. “Plans for a potential renovation and reimagining of Lau are under discussion, including the possible redistribution of spaces currently allocated to book stacks, user needs, and user services,” Dean of the Library Harriette Hemassi wrote in an email to The Hoya. While redistributing spaces would be helpful, a full-building renovation like that planned in 2009 is necessary to drastically increase the capacity of Lau.
Georgetown should finalize plans to renovate Lau and begin these renovations as soon as possible. To meet the demands of Georgetown’s rigorous academics, students need to spend much time studying. We deserve to have enough space to do it.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and chaired by the opinion editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.