By Jaci Schneider, Copy Editor
The university should complete the Library Commons and have it ready for student use on Feb. 17, said Bob Nevill, director of physical resources.
For now, however, students wanting to study might have a difficult time in Brown Library, where tables and chairs have vanished, and shelves of books fill the once vacant aisles and crowd the sunlight out of the third floor.
The reason for the new arrangement is that one phase of construction is coming immediately after another, said Laura Baker, government documents librarian and interim Library Commons coordinator.
The government documents section of the library stands empty, awaiting renovation into a new theology wing. Its previous contents now fill in the gaps between shelves, leaving little room for serious studying.
“We do have a few tables back on the third floor,” Baker said. “But the best place to study will be the basement. It’s the quietest and has the most space.”
The second floor remains off limits for students, but during the Christmas holiday, workers completed about 25 percent of the construction on the Library Commons, Nevill said.
The finished Library Commons will house a full service coffee bar, an area for the Writing Center, the Team 55 office and spaces where students can easily work in groups.
Workers still have to finish installing the floor, woodwork and electrical equipment. Construction on the coffee bar has not yet begun, and furniture needs to be moved in.
The budget for the project was $750,000 and came from the university capital and operating budget. However, construction costs have gone slightly over budget after planners had to bring two restrooms into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Nevill said.
“The ADA deficiency was not known during the original scoping and budgeting of the project,” Nevill said.
Eddie McFadden, physical resources manager of building maintenance, is managing the project.
“He has done an outstanding job of keeping a variety of vendor, trades, materials and audiences focused and moving in uniform direction,” Nevill said.
Although Baker said she has been told the finish date is Feb. 17, she doesn’t know if everything will be moved back in place by that time. So rather than make a premature prediction of when the library will be back in full swing, she’s counting on everything being finished in two to three months.
“It’s been a problem,” Baker said. “We’ve lost about half of the library’s floor space.”
However, she said students are working through the problem.
“The Library Atrium is always open,” she said, “and there’s lots of places where people can ask for help to find books.”