Library finds funding for renovations

In this time of belt tightening and economic slowdown, the library has managed to acquire the funds to being another round of renovations.

The rehabilitation effort will focus on the Library West Commons on the second floor, which is a popular study area for students. Currently, the space is taken up by a mixture of eight-person and six-person tables, as well as single-student desks.

Work on the space is set to being at the end of the spring term, with renovations likely to continue through the beginning of the fall term.

The project is being run concurrently with the construction of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, which will house various student support services and the freshmen science labs. This building will be adjacent to and connected with the library and is scheduled to be opened in 2011 or 2012.

In recent years, the library has been focused its resources on modernizing its facilities.

“We’re planning on having new lights, flooring, more power—in short, an infrastructure overhaul. Besides the first floor, the other floors of the library are outdated and in need of being revamped,” said Brian Mathews, the library’s user experience expert.

Funding for the renovation project comes mostly from the library’s own endowment, which is dedicated to improving the library’s resources and facilities, and a grant from the Price Gilbert Foundation.

Eventually, most of the library will be renovated, but due to the current financial crisis, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents has declined financial support for the project and monetary resources have been strained.

As a result, administrators are having to wait for years to secure enough funding for renovations of the individual sections of the library.

“We were a little disappointed, since we were hoping to upgrade the library facilities on every floor,” said Bob Fox, associate director for public and administrative services. “However, we are happy that we don’t have to cut any money intended for the purchase of books or journals in order to help with the renovation.”

Last Thursday, there was a design exercise aimed at bringing last-minute student input into the final architectural plans for the renovations. Students could drop in to arrange furniture pieces on a floor plan of the new space. The idea behind the exercise was to allow students to express their thoughts on the optimal way to arrange possible furniture items in the space provided.

“Efficient space allocation is the most important point,” said Jimmy Williams, second-year BME major and chair of the SGA Planning and Development Committee. “That’s why my particular diagram was centered on project tables for student groups.”

“We’ve been actively seeking student input since the beginning of this project because issues such as lighting and data connections all depend on the types of study tables students want and how they are placed,” Mathews said.

As part of the effort to include student input in the design of the new West Commons, a furniture showcase is also being planned for the end of the spring semester or at the beginning of the fall semester.

The intention is to let order to allow students pick out the furniture, fabrics and other design elements. They will be able to express the color and style features to be included in the renovated second floor.

“Our goal is to give students a primary role in the design of the renovated library areas,” Fox said. “After all, they’re the ones who need and use it the most.”