posted 2012-10-05 23:09:59

Wexler Library Construction to Continue into 2013

Third floor undergoes extensive repairs in the East Building 

Lisa Babel

Staff Writer

The renovations that currently beset the Wexler Library may not strike Hunter College’s incoming freshman class as anything other than construction—but for most Hunter students and faculty, the East building’s missing ceilings, and the library’s now sealed former third floor entrance has created a great deal of curiosity—namely, why is the library being renovated, and when will the construction end?

“The major work on The Wexler Library has just begun. You can already hear the rumblings and booms of the construction,” said Dan Cherubin, The Wexler Library’s chief librarian.

Designs to renovate the nine-floor library can be traced back to 2006 when Hunter College President Jennifer R. Raab pooled together a coalition of students, faculty, and staff to design a plan to revamp the library, The Envoy previously reported.

“The library was built in the 1980’s, using 1970’s designs, and it [the library] needs to be upgraded to the 21st century,” Cherubin said. According to library’s webpage, The Wexler library was originally designed for 9,000 students. Hunter College is the the largest college in the CUNY system and provides services for over 20,000 students and faculty.

Although Hunter has received funds for the remodeling from both private and public sectors, the college is still short of the estimated cost of the renovations, which is $30 million and climbing.

In Hunter’s financial 2012-13 Five- Year Capital Plan Request—its public request for city and state funding—the college requested $19,500 to complete phase one of the library renovation, and an additional $2,000 for upgrades to the library and Learning Center.

Construction to the Wexler Library started earlier this year, when the third floor East building entrance was relocated to the seventh floor. The relocation has resulted in congestion near the third floor elevator bank as students and faculty make their way to and from the elevators.

“Taking the elevators has become hectic, especially in the afternoon,” said junior and Psychology major, Delia Pun. “The crowding of people by the elevators is an unnecessary hassle.”

The crowds near the elevator bank have not deterred students from utilizing the library, however, although the bottlenecking has caused some to rethink their route. “I take the escalators and walk over from the West Building just to avoid the elevators. Time-wise, it only takes an extra two minutes, but I hope the third floor main entrance re-opens soon,” said senior, and Biology major, Joshua Hur.

When confronted with the possibility that the student swarms by elevators might constitute a fire hazard, Cherubin explained that signage prevented unsafe situations.

“That is why there are signs posted to use the West Building entrance from the seventh floor to avoid such situations,” he said.

But in spite of the posters, library workers have noticed the new entrance still leave some students disoriented. “Believe it or not, students have had trouble finding it [the seventh floor entrance],” said the library’s evening and weekend supervisor, Jocelyn Berger- Barrera.

“Because Hunter College is a commuter campus, I think most students are unaware of the details of the library renovations. If they want to find out more, students need to act as a collective and find these things out from administration,” she said.

The complete renovation of the library’s third floor have left many students curious as to what the new library will look like.

“It would be nice if there was more comfortable seating,” said Pun. “It would be great to have one floor of the library solely for group study and chatting as well.”

According to the library webpage, renovations include more electrical outlets, network printers, improved internet connectivity, and self-checkout stations. The improvements will also provide a more collaborative work space to accommodate students’ needs.

“The library will be beautiful,” said Rick Chandler, vice president of facilities.

The tentative completion date for phase one of the library renovations is set for the end of 2012, according to Cherubin. Once the third floor is finished, construction will soon begin on the sixth and seventh floors of the library during the 2013 spring semester.

“There have been no construction delays and everything has been moving along as planned,” reported Cherubin. “The goal is to renovate the entire library.”

As stated in Hunter College’s Five-Year Capital Plan, the anticipated completion date for the Wexler Library in its entirety is set for August 2015.