Library Main Floor Will Close For Construction

Photo by Robin Weinstein.


Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

Construction on the main floor of the Sojourner Truth Library (STL) is set to begin at the end of the 2014 spring semester and will completely close the main floor of the library for a full year, according to W. Mark Colvson, dean of the Sojourner Truth Library.

Colvson said the renovation plan was devised in consultation with the facilities office and the SUNY construction fund. During construction, which will include new study rooms, the circulation and information desks will be on the concourse level, as well as the entrance to the library.

Lauren Eicher, a third-year anthropology major, is one of the students worried about how the construction will affect their routine.

“It’s great that we’re getting updates on the library, but that being said, the main floor is being closed and personally the library is my go-to place to study,” Eicher said. “My main fear is that the library project is going to either flunk, or go on longer than expected and just be an inconvenience.”

However, Colvson said they will make necessary changes during construction to add places for students to work.

“One of the things we did to prepare for this was to put in an extensive, movable, shelving installation downstairs, which gives us up to 50 percent of the storage in the same space as before,” Colvson said. “That’s the only way that this would have been possible was to be able to basically compress the collection.”

While renovations will start as soon as exams are over in the spring, according to Colvson, the project will begin on other floors beforehand to prepare to close the main floor, including a few changes that need to be made to desks and the concourse level space.

“It’s going to be crowded,” Colvson said. “The biggest challenge is going to be less classroom space. We have a classroom on the concourse level right now that we use heavily and it’s conceivable that we will be short a classroom during the renovation.”

With the limited space during renovation, Colvson said the fate of the computer lab is uncertain.

“Space is so challenging, it’s hard to say that there will be as many computers as we have now,” he said “We’ll probably put more computer stations on the ground floor than we have now and a lot more computers on the concourse.”

After the renovation, he said, there will still be a computer lab on the main floor.

“It could be that we’ll move more in the direction of providing more portable computing devices than the desktops,” Colvson said. “Right now we have a majority of desktop computers and I could certainly see at some point down the road moving more toward providing [more] laptops or perhaps tablets.”

The SUNY construction fund, which is an independent affiliate corporation to the SUNY system, issued a bond for this project, according to Colvson.

The library also gets support for their new additions, including 25 new iPads, paid in part by the student technology fee which is used to add smart classrooms and other technologies.

In an email to students, Colvson elaborated on updates to the library in recent months. The Late Night Study Room at the Terrace is now open from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m., Sunday through Wednesday. Other changes include the 25 iPads available for loan, art history and music books available in the stacks and the return of Starbucks.

Diane Jackson, general manager of the SUNY New Paltz  Food Service Management Team, said the Starbucks at the library needed to be closed after a health department inspection required the addition of a hard top sink.

“The original plan for providing water and drainage was not approved by the health department, they had to re-do it,” Colvson said. “It is a different requirement for the service they are providing.”

Jackson said, the original Jazzman’s behind the wall’s plumbing was taken out after it closed, so in order to have on-site espresso made, the Starbucks needed to temporarily close to change the plumbing. The Starbucks will open Tuesday, Oct.8 at the latest and will have espresso and specialty drinks, as well as sandwiches to-go, sushi and baked goods, she said.

Colvson will be reaching out to students and faculty over the next couple monthsto get feedback about possible ideas for the renovation and more improvements to the library.