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Lutnick Library Construction Continues

For the past year, everyone commuting between their dorms and classes cannot have missed the constant signs of progress on the former Magill Library as it slowly becomes Lutnick Library. With the library entering its final semester of renovation, the massive crane and much of the exterior scaffolding have vanished as interior work—painting, network wiring, and interior wall construction—begins in earnest.

Despite the chain-link fences and hard-hat signs still surrounding the construction area, students have been able to interact with the renovation project in a number of ways. Students had the opportunity to sign support beams—now installed atop the new library roof—in mid-November while they were on display outside the main substitute library space in Founder’s Great Hall. In addition, students and faculty have been able to tour inside the site through hard-hat tours arranged and led by Terry Snyder, Librarian of the College.

Steve Lehman ‘19 said of his tour: “It was like a hollowed-out shell of the former Magill, but I’m excited to see what it’ll look like when it’s finished. … Yeah, it was really amazing to see the construction progress.”

The main point of contact between the student body and the library’s future form, however, has been the Library Student Advisory Committee. The committee has taken on several new members as others graduate, including two first-years. Two semesters have passed since the library closed, and while progress has largely been smooth it has not been without pain points for students. The committee spends most of its time discussing ways to help students better cope without the library.

“Basically our role is to serve as a bridge between the student population and the admin about how we can improve the library situation on campus, and what more the library can do for us. We talk about ways to fix problems that people are having with Founders and the Science Library on campus—like printing issues,” said committee member Rebecca Koweek ‘22. “Basically the big thing everybody complains about is printing. Because … the fact that there’s no color printing, that’s a big thing.” The committee discussed why the Founders printers have been less reliable than those in the Science Library, and plans to address those technical issues.

The lack of a dedicated library space has been particularly noticeable during finals periods. “During finals people were complaining that there weren’t enough quiet spaces, so we made sure that a few classrooms were designated to be quiet spaces— like we made that happen with the Dining Center left side being a designated quiet space, that type of thing,” Koweek said.

The Council spends the rest of the time at meetings keeping abreast of progress on Lutnick. When it opens next fall, the student body—half of which will never have experienced the library when it existed as Magill—will find an abundance of much-needed study spaces, digital resources, better charging infrastructure, and a new cafe that will be operated much like the Whitehead Campus Center’s Coop. “The D.C. is running it, it’s not under student management, and it’s not designated quiet space, it’s open to the public,” said Koweek. Part of the library will also be accessible 24/7, much like the Dining Center basement and VCAM are currently.

Though much of the library’s 20th-century annexes have been removed to make room for the new additions,  some favorite historical portions remain. The Rufus Jones room, and Philips Wing have all been kept intact.

The renovation is largest of the four major projects the college’s Academic Spaces Planning Committee selected as priorities in 2014: renovations to Roberts Hall which have yet to take place, Sharpless laboratory and office remodeling, and VCAM’s conversion from the old Ryan Gym. Director of Facilities Donald Campbell noted in an email that the approved project budget currently sits at $35.2 million, close to the $32-33 million estimated before work began. That figure will cost approximately as much as construction of the new Tritton and Kim dorms ($19.3 million) and renovation of VCAM ($15.5 million) did combined, although much of the renovation will be funded through Howard Lutnick’s $25 million donation in 2014.

Lutnick Library is currently on track to open its doors to the class of 2023 with an official opening ceremony on Family and Friends Weekend although the library will be open for student use with the start of the fall 2019 semester. And, as Snyder promises, “it will be beautiful.”