Hunter College Library to Undergo MakeoverNATALIE GERGICH
Come next winter, Hunter College students can expect improved study spaces and decreased check out times at Hunter’s central library branch.
The third floor of Hunter College’s Wexler Library will undergo a large-scale renovation starting this June. The renovation will continue into the summer, and is anticipated to be completed in January of 2012.
The renovation of the library’s third floor is the brainchild of the Library Task Force, put together by Hunter President Jennifer Raab. The task force consists of over 40 Hunter students, faculty members and librarians, and has been meeting since 2006 to come up with ideas for the renovations. The task force collected information from interviews and focus groups. “We really needed to come together as an institution and think about ways to renovate,” Raab said at a Hunter College senate meeting April 13.
The fundraising effort for the renovations is co-chaired by Foundation Board Members Lisa Witten, a 1981 Hunter graduate, and Abby Miller Levy. The $5.4 million raised to fund the renovation has come from both public and private sources, including a $1.1 million donation from the New York City Council, a donation of $350 thousand from the Skirball Foundation, and $3.3 million from individual gifts. Presently, renovation funds are still $24.6 million shy of Levy and Witten’s $30 million goal.
The changes to the Wexler Library’s third floor will be coordinated by Hunter College’s architectural consultant, Anne Asher, and chief architect Calvert Wright of the firm Calvert Wright Architecture/Spatial Discipline. Under the design plan, a significantly large part of the third floor will be converted into an “information commons.” According to a report in the Spring 2011 issue of Alumni magazine At Hunter, the commons will include an “interactive reference and information desk inspired by the ‘Genius Bar’ in Apple stores” as well as a “custom carpet printed with signs” and several reference kiosks.
Asher anticipates that the proposed innovations will help to create a better environment for the Wexler Library. Of the library’s current state, a common gripe among students was the library’s florescent lighting. “Take out the florescent lights... it’s crusty man,” suggested Rosalyn Jimenez, a 21-year-old nursing student in her junior year. “You have the worst lighting I’ve ever seen in any library.”
Students who share a dislike of florescence can take heart. Asher guarantees that the renovations will address this issue.
The innovations also aim to increase efficiency and ease of navigation through the library’s resources. Another significant addition will be the Barbara Lang Study Center, described in the design summary as “a space where typical library restrictions regarding food and beverages do not apply and eating is encouraged.” J.R Heeter, a 21-year-old junior majoring in media studies said, “that’ll be a cool section to have, it’ll be a cool place for students to hang out and better their learning experience.” Heeter, who said he doesn’t use the library often, speculated that he may visit the post-renovation library more frequently.
Asher also said that one of the features of the new third floor will be “self-check stations, so that if you don’t want to wait in line, you can just check yourself out.” The official Wexler Library design summary envisiona these stations as a way to ease the burden on librarians and to eliminate the reserve desk’s “infamously” long lines during finals week.
According to the design summary, the new third floor will include a reading room. The reading room will offer a variety of furniture for students to maximize student comfort while studying. Along the perimeter there will be smaller private tables with a view of the 68th street campus. Informal groups of upholstered chairs will occupy both ends of the reading room, with more traditional high and low chairs and tables located closer to the building’s center.
“This design is based on what came out of the task force report,” Asher said. “The president’s really focusing on the students, she understands there’s a limited amount of space for students to study.” She added that the third floor’s new design would improve the library so that it may “really be able to cater to the student’s needs.”