MARY MURTAGH FOR THE HOYA Preliminary renovations to Lauinger Library’s Special Collections Research Center commenced this week to enhance reading rooms, classrooms and exhibit spaces.
Preliminary renovations to Lauinger Library’s Special Collections Research Center commenced this week to enhance reading rooms, classrooms and exhibit spaces.

Lauinger Library has entered the beginning stages of renovations to the Special Collections Research Center on the fifth floor to update and expand the space, this week.

Throughout the renovations, designed by Bowie Gridley Architects, administrators hope to keep the noise and disruptions to students in the library at a minimum. Construction, led by Manhattan Construction, will take place Monday through Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We found that especially our undergraduate users tend to be here late afternoon and all through the night and so our hope is that the disruption will be minimal,” University Librarian Artemis Kirk said.

The renovation will not only update the Special Collections Research Center, but also move some of the crucial materials and staff to the first floor in order to continue services.

“We are redoing that space. It will be temporary space for special collections folk and some materials from which they will continue their service,” Kirk said.

Updates will feature a state-of-the-art shelving area and vault, which will be environmentally controlled. A classroom for teaching with special collections will be added, along with an enhanced reading room for researchers, a separate reception area and improved exhibition spaces. Collaborative study space for faculty, staff and students will also be added.

The renovations are taking place after years of planning to update the standards of the Special Collections Research Center to meet current preservation standards.

“During this 40-year period of time, in addition to having received so many more materials and the need to store them and keep them and preserve them, the standards have changed in preservation, so we are updating and upgrading the systems,” Kirk said.

This renovation is an opportunity to strengthen scholarly research possibilities by taking care of the collection and expanding research space. According to the website, the project costs $5 million and will be mainly funded through philanthropy.

“Because our job as librarians is to see to it that the scholarly communications continuum exists and that people use the materials that we have here to create new knowledge for the future but to make sure that we preserve all these things,” Kirk said.

There will be no construction during the exam period and Kirk stated that most of the loud and disruptive construction will be happening over the summer.

Kirk anticipates little concern over the renovation’s effect on study space on the floor itself.

“The Special Collections really wasn’t a study space to begin with, in the way that a lot of students would come in and expect to do their own assignments,” Kirk said.

However, Vice President for Planning and Facilities Robin Morey acknowledged that the renovations would spill over to the third floor, causing the Pierce Reading Room to be closed temporarily.

“The schedule contains a three-week period when the third-floor reading room will be closed. The work will be scheduled ahead of time with sufficient notice to users,” Morey said.

However, according to Coordinator of Communications, Outreach and Programming Jennifer Smith, these plans have not been finalized.

Kirk explained that the closure may occur because the heating systems between the fifth floor and the reading room are connected.

For students, these renovations may disrupt their regular study patterns. However, the updates will enhance study life.

For students, the renovations may be welcomed, as better study space is made available.

“Right now it’s kind of barren and a little dated, so [the construction] is encouraging, I know it will facilitate learning,” Thomas McAuley (COL ’17) said of the planned renovations.

Although McAuley frequently studies on the fifth floor, he said he would not be bothered by the construction.

“It probably will annoy some people, but there’s four other floors and it’s probably worth it. … It sounds like they’re trying to do their best to make it convenient and not disruptive to everyone, so I’m not going to be bothered by it, I’ll still go to Lau 5,” McAuley said.

The hours of renovation also will allow students who study frequently at night to avoid disruption. According to McAuley, he normally studies after the 6 p.m., after the end of construction.

“If I’m studying earlier, I go to a different floor because earlier in the day the other floors aren’t as crowded, the only reason I go to Lau 5 is because it’s not very crowded,” McAuley said.

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