Renovated Library Unveiled to the Public

Photo by Holly Lipka.

After an eager anticipation of renovations, the Sojourner Truth Library finally opened its shiny, glass doors to the public on Saturday, Jan. 2.

The upgraded main floor includes 80 computers and multiple new group study rooms.

Students can rent out the new group study rooms for two hours at a time. The rooms hold four-six people and contain screens with software similar to a smart board where students can broadcast work and view it together.

Mark Colvson, dean of the library, said the group study rooms are tremendously successful so far and they’re “one of the best features of the new library.”

Students are already taking advantage of the new seating arrangements. Inviting warm-colored soft seating, a combination of large booths and even a few designer Eames chairs fill the spacious floor. Power outlets are also set into the furniture so no matter where you are, laptops and phones can stay charged.

With the addition of more than twice the number of windows, an abundance of natural light brightens the space. The west-opened windows display a priceless view of the Gunks which can be seen from any spot a student decides to work.

“When we surveyed students they asked for two things: more available light and a variety of seating,” Morgan Gwenwald, the special collections librarian, said. “I believe we delivered on that very well.”

Additionally the front desk on the main floor now serves as a combined service desk.

Research and Education Librarian Mandy Babirad believes the librarians are more accessible to the students and that makes it easier to help them.

While hanging out in the library’s entranceway, students can grab a delicious drink from Peet’s Coffee and Tea café and view the 12 glass display cases that will be used to share creative academic work from students, faculties and departments are doing on campus.

Throughout this semester, a variety of events will be held to celebrate the library’s grand re-opening. The library launched their opening events with a film screening and panel discussion about Sojourner Truth last Thursday, Jan. 28.

“We wanted to lead with a display on Sojourner Truth because many students don’t know much about her,” Gwenwald said. “She was an amazing person and we’re lucky to be named after her.”

Raj Pandya, director of the John R. Kirk Planetarium at SUNY New Paltz, will be hosting an upcoming event on Feb. 4 about the song, “Follow The Drinking Gourd,” and will explain how to navigate using the stars.

A lecture by Ken Nystrom of the Anthropology department will be held on Feb. 17. The lecture will discuss structural violence, specifically in regards to race, inequality, poverty and medical education in the 19th century.

Library users can also look forward to performances from the Kings and Queens of New Paltz club and Urban Lyrics. Gwenwald also hopes to have performances from the theater and music departments.

Colvson said the general public is raving about the space, according to feedback from the suggestion box and online form on the school website.

The official ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening will be in April.