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$725K renovation gives 18th Avenue Library new look

Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor

The 18th Avenue Library has gotten a facelift.
The library, which recently had its name changed from the Science and Engineering Library, received a $725,000 makeover as part of a two-year, $1.5 million project, said Bruce Leach, head of the 18th Avenue Library.
The upgrades included adding a variety of seating and tables of different heights and sizes. The added tables come with an electrical outlet on the table itself or right next to it.
Stretches of counter-like table space separated by clouded glass privacy screens have also been installed.
“One of the things we heard from the students we talked to before embarking on this was, ‘How can you help us solve the awkwardness, you know, of finding an individual seat?'” said Lisa Patton-Glinski, assistant director for planning and administration for University Libraries.
Leach said there were approximately 1,146 seats in the building before the renovation and 1,086 after. While the number of seats has decreased, he said the new arrangement is more usable because students don’t always like sitting at the same table with people they don’t know, leaving many seats unused.
Leach said the reason behind the variety of tables and seating options is to make sure there is a seating arrangement to fit everyone’s needs.  
Another aspect of the renovation is the new group-work stations in the basement. They each consist of a horseshoe-shaped table around a hub with wires to connect all the group members’ laptops. A large button on each of the cords, when pressed, displays the corresponding laptop’s screen on a large screen at the end of the table. There are four of these stations with varying table heights.  
“You can hook up multiple laptops and move back and forth, just seamlessly. You pop the button, and then it goes from machine to machine so you can share your (work). It’s been pretty cool so far,” Leach said.
In the conference rooms, where classes in the 18th Avenue Library are usually held, the seats were chosen by students “test driving” a variety of possible chairs and filling out a survey to express their likes and dislikes, Leach said.
Students were consulted on several aspects of the renovations through the use of surveys and interviews.  
“Some of the top responses were related to power, power, power,” Patton-Glinski said.
She said other top student responses were the desire for enough work space to accommodate many papers and books, a mix of solitary and group-work spaces, comfortable chairs and darker tables to give contrast to white paper.  
Leach said staff consulted Undergraduate Student Government to identify “a subset of students” to interview about how they use the building and “their preferences for seating and study space.”
The students interviewed frequented the library or were studying in the science and engineering fields, Leach said.
This is not the last planned 18th Avenue Library renovation.
“The next phase is a project for the re-imagination of the first floor,” Patton-Glinski said. There is also a plan to renovate the restrooms, Leach said.
Matt Swisher, a third-year in computer science and engineering, said he was “really impressed” by the renovations.  
“I like all the new couches and the tables, and you get a lot more privacy with some of the dividers,” Swisher said. “Some of the back booths remind me of restaurant booths, so it’s a lot better than it was before.”
Jasleen Kaur, a second-year in biology, also said she likes the renovations, especially the privacy screens.  
“It’s a lot more. You’re not distracted and you’re not people-watching, you’re sitting there doing your work,” Kaur said.
However, she said she had noticed a few things she wasn’t a fan of, including the sofas that wouldn’t be useful for studying during Finals Week.
Ian Cross, a third-year in computer science and engineering,had similar concerns about how the renovations would pan out during exams.  
“It’s not super space-efficient, but that hasn’t been tested yet,” Cross said.
He added that he was worried they might run out of space when seats in the library are in high demand.
“On the fourth floor, on the back wall, they used to have lots of tables packed in there. It’s not like that anymore, they have lots of just couches there,” Cross said.

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