posted 2011-09-07 13:00:32

Wexler Library Renovations Underway

Contractors working on construction on B1 in the library / Jenady Garshofsky
Contractors working on construction on B1 in the library / Jenady Garshofsky
Alexandra Heidler

Additional Reporting:

Bridgit Boulahanis

Renovations at the Wexler library began over the summer to modernize Hunter's library. A task force formed in 2006 to determine ways to improve the library has finally started to see some of its ideas come to fruition. Renovations started this summer, interrupting service and studies on the B1 level as well as the fifth and sixth floors.

The B1 level of the library remained closed all summer.  When it reopened for the fall semester August 25, there were obvious signs of change.  The northeast corner was blocked off with caution tape and panels where ceiling tiles and carpeting were missing as construction continued.  However, the wooden beams and the stacks of plastic-wrapped furniture against the walls did not discourage students from using the B1 level’s reserve of computers.

During the summer students were unable to visit B1 and had to ask librarians to retrieve material for them. “It was actually more convenient for the students since they would just ask for the book and wait,” said student librarian and social work major Joseline Jimenez.  “It was also a nice break for us librarians to get up and walk downstairs since we’re usually stuck behind a desk on a chair all day.”

Other adjustments included the relocation of agriculture, technology, science periodicals and bound journals from the sixth to the fifth floor, leaving many of the bookshelves on the sixth floor empty.  “I noticed shelves missing, but it didn’t interfere with me being in the library,” said Emily Shapre, a Child Psychology and Computer Science major.

The most anticipated renovations in store are for the third floor, and have yet to begin. Plans for this level include a new commons area, the addition of a Macaulay Honors study center, and the Barbara Lang Study Center, which will serve as the library's main reading room. Renovations to the library aim not only to create an efficient system to serve students, but also to facilitate a more relaxed atmosphere. The commons area will be the only area in the library to allow food and drink. Ellen Wong, an English major, said she looked forward to the new space.  “It is hard to get a seat around Hunter where you can eat and study,” she said, “this is probably a good change.”

According to the Hunter website, the commons area will include sets of boomerang shaped tables, computers, and a large reference center inspired by the famous ‘Genius Bar’ found at Apple stores – which the website said will help to ease the burden of over-crowded computer usage.

One of the hopes expressed by students regarding changes to the library was increased monitoring of student computer use.  “I would like it to be more reinforced that the computers are for academic use and school work,” said Nina Gonzalez, majoring in psychology.  “I shouldn’t have to wait to write a paper because someone is on Facebook or managing their Farmville.”

Some students said they were concerned about the disruption that the third floor renovations will cause while underway.  “There aren’t enough computers, so when they renovate the third floor I’ll probably have to wait even longer if I want to use one” said Jose Samora, a Japanese language and culture major.

The college is attempting to maintain library operations as normally as possible for students while the adjustments are made. On fifth and sixth floor and the B1 level there were signs posted notifying students where books and periodicals had been relocated. Maps of the floors being renovated had signs posted indicating that they will be updated. The library's website includes a page that lists updates about the renovations, including service disruptions and construction progress.