Falvey remains a work in progress

Lindsay Shoff

In the coming weeks, University students will see improved access to library materials as renovations to Falvey near completion. Natural oak, new carpets, open reference and information desks and a bank of flat screen computers are all part of the building’s new look. Even a 24-hour access study lounge complete with food service is on the horizon.

On the first floor, students will have access to 28 flat screen monitors as well as 10 laptops which can be rented from the circulation desk and are compatible with wireless Internet throughout the entire building. Additionally, students can use new customized tables meant to accommodate groups of students working on the same project. In response to multiple students crowding around one computer for group projects, the library added shaped tables with three or four chairs. The library will house around 45-50 computers in total.

“We had to reduce the number of computers to increase the amount of space, because we felt people were crowded,” University Library director Joe Lucia said. “We hope students can use a laptop if they can’t find a computer.”

Upcoming work on the first floor includes revamping the current periodicals section, centralizing reference librarians’ offices and reference shelves and improving the information, reference and circulation desks.

“We felt that it was a visually-closed, almost claustrophobic space,” Lucia said. “We wanted to be able to see the windows at the back of the library all the way from the front.”

A wall was torn down, audio/visual materials were moved and shelving for current periodicals was opened up to increase sunlight. With the help of an interior consultant, Lucia brought in round tables, new carpet and natural oak desks. An information desk sits at the front of the library for general questions and more specific research queries can be handled at the back of the room, next to the reference section.

Reserve materials have been moved to the first floor and can be obtained at the circulation desk, since library staff members now occupy the old Reserve Room. Students can now use the third and fourth floors for quiet study space.

Circulation supervisor Luisa Cywinski said, “We’re very excited about the new library, and I have to say bringing all the public services to the first floor will help students by cutting down on travel.”

Lucia has overseen the project throughout the summer months and into the fall semester. Upon beginning his career at the University in fall 2002, Lucia was met with complaints about the facility. With no complete overhaul of the library likely in the foreseeable future, Lucia looked to Falvey’s internal budget for assistance as well as to the help of an SGA committee, the Library Student Advisory Committee.

Lucia approached SGA in spring of 2003 to begin meetings with students to discuss a possible 24-hour study lounge, and the group seemed interested.

“We had an option of keeping things the way they are indefinitely or improving what we already had,” he said.

Since it is a part of Academic Affairs, Falvey is able to carry over its excess budget from year to year. These monies provided the bulk of the amount to cover the library. With approval from John Johannes, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Lucia, along with a Facilities Management team headed by Rick McKay, began work in early summer 2004. With the tentative date of completion set at the beginning of the semester, Lucia was slightly disappointed when the computer tables did not arrive on time.

“The one thing we did fail on is having computers on the first floor for the first day of class,” he said.

Despite their late arrival, students have been pleased with the new computers. Senior Lauren Brooks said, “I like the flat screens. It would have been nice for students to have the library fully-functioning by the beginning of the school year, but who knows what happens in the summer time.”

She added, “I think it’s good they’re making changes based on student feedback.”

Trying to keep the library open all summer became an ambitious task during the summer months.

“We always knew it was going to be tight in the summer and we never got an accurate estimate on when exactly things would be completed,” Lucia said.

The study lounge is set to open in mid-September, but 24-hour Wildcard access will not be functioning until after fall break because of security issues. Lucia said he expected the completion of the lounge to take longer but hopes for operation to begin when construction finishes and all furniture arrives. The lounge will contain two computers for quick use, 20 soft chairs and coffee tables for studying, café style tables near the Dining Services area and a unisex bathroom.

Tim Dietzler, head of Dining Services, plans on working with SGA to hire students willing to offer food around the clock.

“It would be very challenging for us to start it with full-time staff members; we need to encourage and engage students.”

When it begins operation, the café will close at the same time as the library, but Dietzler hopes eventually to have it run 24 hours from Sunday to Thursday nights with the help of student workers.