Library will be renovated again this summer
Outreach librarian, Deborah Fink said the first phase of the Norlin Library revitalization project will take place as early as May or June of this year
With this plan, the nearly 70-year-old library will undergo its first major remodeling, the first since the 1970s.
Early this summer, work will begin to create a new space on the second floor of the library, which will be the research floor. Fink said all of the reference material will be moved to this floor and the reference desks will be merged into a central research desk where there will be access to periodicals, reference librarians who can make individual appointments and computers for searching.
The goal of relocating the reference section is to begin remodeling its current location to create a 24-hour Learning Commons. Fink said construction on this area will most likely begin in the fall.
The Learning Commons will include flexible, collaborative and individual work spaces, team technology rooms, a larger coffee shop and other new features.
“This is a new concept, where it’s combining the way students use the library today but also doing something that’s relatively new and that’s creating more team and collaborative space for students,” Dennis Maloney, CU’s chief technology officer said.
A team within the library, comprised of administrative cabinet members and representatives from the library’s reference department, traveled throughout the country and visited five different Learning Commons recently added to other libraries. They developed the concept and design for the Norlin Library Learning Commons by looking at the “latest and greatest that’s available,” Fink said.
Maloney said that other institutions around the nation have already taken in this direction.
“We’ve engaged in this because we’ve taken a look at other places around the country,” Maloney said. “Other colleges and universities who’ve gone this direction in creating a Learning Commons have been very, very successful.”
Fink said she is excited about the project.
“This is really the heart of what we’re about is to create this new, flexible user centered space,” Fink said.
Information Technology Services has been a partner with UCB libraries for more than ten years, according to Maloney. Dean of libraries Jim Williams invited ITS to participate in the revitalization of Norlin as a service partner as well.
Maloney said ITS will be supporting the technology in the new area by expanding the capability of students to check out laptops. It will also have a walk-in center, similar to their telecommunications center, where students can walk in and receive help with computer problems.
Fink said the cost of the Learning Commons project approach $5 million.
Some of this money will come from graduate students to go towards the development of a graduate study space. Both the campus and the state have provided funding and $1 million will come from student computing fees funded over a three-year period. Williams has also done fundraising in order to finance the project.
The campus is also taking charge of a renovation of the plaza at the library’s east entrance. The concrete in the plaza will be removed and replaced with a softer, more porous and more environmentally-friendly concrete. Stones with quotes written on them will be set into the concrete.
There will also be a fountain around the sundial already present in the plaza, and outdoor seating with electrical outlets.
Fink said that there has been a need for a change in the library for years.
“We are sorely out of date,” she said. “It’s a confusing building, it is not adequate for the technology use that people have now come to expect. We have chunked the building down over the years to create lots of little spaces and that’s no longer serving us. We want to open up some of the spaces.”
Fink added that students have been dissatisfied with the building for years. She said the library has received complaints that the immediate study areas are “just not adequate or pleasing.”
Monica Hilliard, a sophomore international affairs major, said she agreed that the study areas within the library are not very welcoming.
“I think that’s great that they’re remodeling,” she said. “It would be nice if they brightened it up a bit, made it a little bit more cheery. Maybe I’d use it more frequently because right now I like to work in my room better.”
Fink said the library was close to getting a more comprehensive remodeling approved by the legislature some years ago but it didn’t go through. The present revitalization plan is an “attempt to recoup from that failed effort and to come up with a plan that could be financed over time.”
She also said that the library staff is figuring out how the library will continue to function while under construction as they go.
“We really are focused on being able to maintain services and impact faculty and students as little as possible,” Fink said.
The library plans to keep people informed on a regular basis by posting updates to CuLink and Buff Bulletins and communicating messages on digital signage systems outside the library entrances.
Fink said that they expect to be able to maintain at least one entrance on the library’s east side when the concrete in the plaza is torn up.
“They will systematically conduct the renovation of the actual plaza so that that area is never blocked for more than a day,” she said.
Fink said library staff members are excited about the project and they “hope people are going to be thrilled and patient.”
“It’s one of these things where there will be some temporary inconvenience but it will be well worth it in the long run,” she said.
Joan Park, a junior psychology and Japanese major, said she does not have a problem with the current state of the library.
“I guess remodeling is okay as long as it serves a purpose,” Park said. “I think the library is fine as it is but I think if they have ideas to make it better, then I’m all for it.”
The entire remodeling project is predicted to take about 18 months. For more information, visit http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/learningcommons/index.htm.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Kaely Moore at email@example.com.