From June 2019 through June 2021 Vasche Library will be gutted and reborn, making way for exciting new changes.
“The building will be a shell and only the load bearing walls and columns will be left…the floors, the carpeting, everything will be gone,” Dean of Library Services, Ron Rodriguez said.
The renovation will cost approximately $55 million and funding will come from the sale of system-wide revenue bonds.
Rodriguez and his co-chair on the Library Renovation Committee Melody Maffei, Associate Vice President of Capital Planning and Facilities Management, have been meeting with architects and planners and holding open forum sessions with students to finalize the vision for the new Vasche Library.
The library is one of the oldest buildings on campus (next to Bizzini Hall) and has not been updated since additions were made in the late 1980s.
The current library building has issues with fire and seismic safety, plumbing and mechanical problems, Americans with Disabilities Act deficiencies, and hazardous building materials.
A study sent to the campus community revealed concerns with a lack of seating, difficulty booking group study rooms, blurred distinctions between quiet and speaking areas, a lack of fresh snacks and coffee, and limited hours for studying.
Jaycie Wildermuth (junior, Kinesiology) echoed the community's concerns.
“I usually go to have quiet study time by myself, so sometimes I wish there were more quiet study areas…sometimes I end up in the talking areas with headphones on,” Wildermuth said.
Rodriguez plans to address these concerns and more. He describes his own preferences for the renovation and those of students as being essentially the same: A café, 24/7 study space, more seating, distinct quiet and non-quiet zones, and more group study areas are on his list of additions that he hopes will be included in the new library.
The challenges: Two years without a library
However, with big ideas comes big challenges.
Currently, the library houses over 500,000 materials, including books, periodicals, theses, DVDs, microfiche, and microfilm, which are stored in traditional book “stacks” or shelves. Storing these materials during the renovation in a way that they are still accessible to students may prove to be a tricky task.
A company that specializes in record retention and resource management out of East Bay is being considered to house the library’s materials while the building is being renovated.
“They propose to store and remove materials from the library, box, and then move [them] to a facility,” Rodriguez said. He elaborates that students will still be able to check out books, but instead of going to the library to find them, they will have to page the book through the library’s website.
The company will then make periodic trips with the paged books to Stan State, where students will pick up and check out their requested books as usual.
Rodriguez speculates that, with this system, procrastinators may be at a disadvantage. “It puts a little bit more pressure on the students…they need to plan ahead and order books in plenty of time,” he stated.
Of course, the notion of a college campus without a physical library is alarming to students.
Mayah Chambers (junior, Criminal Justice) stated that she did have a few concerns with the accessibility of library materials and booking group sessions during the renovation.
“Commuter students could be concerned they won’t have a place to study, or sleep, or print their assignments," Chambers said.
Wildermuth expressed similar concerns: “Where else would I go? Are you going to offer another space?”
Indeed, the loss of study and computer space during the renovation is a growing concern for both students and the Library Renovation Committee.
For one semester, both the Student Union Building and the University Library will be under renovation, meaning access to thousands of square feet of study space and hundreds of computers in computer labs will be lost.
Rodriguez explains that library faculty and staff will likely be relocated to portable buildings between Bizzini and Demergasso-Bava Hall. Access to general library resources, like reference librarians and laptop checkout, will still be available.
However, addressing the loss of computers and study space is more challenging. “The challenge is to create a plan: Where can students who come to the campus study and get access to computers?” Rodriguez said.
An alternate solution is still in the works. Rodriguez explains that computer spaces could be relocated to the temporary buildings with the library's faculty and staff, to the Mary Stuart Rogers (MSR) building, or be reimagined in the form of converted classrooms in Bizzini or the science buildings.
Discussions amongst the Library Renovation Committee are currently underway to find a practical solution while the library is under reconstruction.
The rewards: A contemporary new space
However, these two years of challenges will pay off in the form of a contemporary, user-friendly, and convenient new library that will withstand the test of time.
Rodriguez points out that the renovated library will need to properly serve the campus population for 40 years or more. Currently, there are 620 seats in the library; the department aims to increase this number to at least 1,000 to accommodate to the expected increases in student population.
Rodriguez highlights, as a reward of the renovation process, the 24/7 study space he hopes to add, describing it as a secure and safe area that will be accessible only by Warrior Identification (ID) card swipe and equipped with snacks, soft drinks and coffee machines.
Additionally, there are plans to include more group study rooms, more distinct quiet and speaking zones, and a café where students can buy snacks and coffee.
“I’ve said it a number of times: It’d be a shame to go through this renovation, all the challenges and the money, and to still have students studying on the hallway floor, looking for a space to go,” Rodriguez said. “But, we hope we’re going to meet those challenges.”
If you’d like to share your suggestions, questions, or concerns related to the 2019 library renovation, please email the Library Renovation Committee at LibReno@Libary.csustan.edu.