Fourteen months and $10 million later, the school promises a renovated campus next school year. In the meantime, however, we are stuck with a disjointed library with significantly fewer books, longer walks between classes and athletic practices that require buses. But it’s not that we don’t understand the value of the construction.
An interdisciplinary study center memorializing Brendan Kutler ’10 is a worthy endeavor, especially as the facilities that are created will serve students for many years to come.
The renovation of the library will have the harshest effects of all of the construction projects during the school year. No longer will the library be a place for students to study or to meet friends. Three quarters of the library’s volumes have been put away in storage, completely inaccessible to students.
As a school, we pride ourselves on having excellent research facilities available to students—eliminating access to so many books will hurt students’ ability to thoroughly complete research assignments. While the school promises that many more volumes will be available through interlibrary loans from other schools, we question the feasibility of using such a cumbersome process to get essential research materials.
The only remaining vestige of the old library, the Tech Center, will only be accessible from a back door between the Feldman-Horn Art Gallery and St. Saviour’s Chapel. It remains unclear whether students will make the trek all the way up there to use the computers, or whether they will simply overcrowd the computers in Chalmers Hall and Munger Science Center.
While the fragmented library inconveniences students, it also hurts us sentimentally. The library was the hub of campus for many of us— a place to spend time with friends and to do our homework.
The new library, with its reduced size, is too small to fulfill the same role. Because of space constraints, there is no room for fiction and other pleasure reading books in the library. Instead, the temporary library functions only as a place for research.
Inevitably, the construction will affect classes in progress. History and foreign language classes are located in Seaver Hall, immediately next to the construction site. Loud construction noise could easily disrupt a test or a lecture in the south end of the building. In addition, classes may be disrupted when students show up late because of the long detours now required to get to some classrooms. This campus has not experienced construction on this scale since the 1994-1995 construction of Munger Science Center, and it is inevitable that further problems and complications will arise. Despite being larger in scale and in funding, the Middle School Modernization Project had a much smaller impact on students because virtually all of the construction took place on new land acquisitions and in the former faculty parking lot, literally walled off from life on campus.
This project, on the other hand, takes place in the heart of the campus and will significantly affect student life.
With that said, we recognize that, given a project of this size, the administration has done as much as possible to lessen the impact on students.
We appreciate its effort to make replacement facilities available. It’s great that the librarians have made a huge effort to provide as many resources as possible given the tiny facility. Still, we miss our library, and the role it played as a place to do homework or spend time with friends. Hopefully the new, glass-paned and modernized library will serve the same purpose in the years to come.