Construction Begins on Sojourner Truth Library

By Gianna Canevari

The Sojourner Truth Library at SUNY New Paltz is now undergoing a major renovation period. For 10 to 12 months starting esktonec. 4, the main floor will be closed as contractors begin construction on the $14 million project.

Library employees are now completing phase one and two of a three-phase endeavor, relocating reference collections, removing artwork and preparing for a full move from the main floor to the concourse level. All library activity will be centered on this floor for the remainder of the project and during phase three.

“Phase three is the cool phase, that’s where the main emphasis of the project is,” said Library Dean Mark Colvson at a question and answer session open to students and faculty in October.

This phase includes opening up the west wall to a larger view of the mountains, emphasizing collaborative space with 10 group study rooms equipped with various technologies like projectors and display panels, redesigning the main stairway and main entrance to allow in more light and combining the service desk with the other services provided by library staff. E-reserves help, laptop checkout and reference will be better integrated with one all-function desk.

 Lauren Marcus, reference and instruction librarian, recommends students stay up to date with the renovation website, Dean Colvson’s renovation blog and the PC Tracker, a function of the library’s site that allows students to view how many desktop computers are occupied and how many are available. Marcus expects it will get busy and doesn’t want students to waste their time if computers are not available. A laptop tracker is also viewable through the same site, allowing students to see how many laptops are checked out, charging and available for use. Aside from reconfiguring how students use the library, a large part of the renovation project is redesigning the dated aesthetics of the library.

“You wonder what the architects were thinking in the 60s with these brutalist bunkers,” said John McEnrue, Director of Facilities, Design and Construction. “That’s one of the major aspects that’s the most exciting. It’s not going to be a speedy process, however.” Colvson’s hope is to have the library completed and ready for use by the end of summer in 2015 but it might be sometime during the following fall semester.

While the number of seats available in the library will shrink from 506 to 420 and desktop space will decrease from 60 to 40, other locations on campus are changing their hours to absorb student overflow from the library. The lecture center and LC 110 to 112 will remain open during scheduled library hours and the Student Union will provide alternative quiet study spaces on weekends. The late night study in the Terrace will keep its current hours which are Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Parking accommodations are also changing. The parking lot adjacent to route 32 on the part of campus furthest east has expanded and makes the total number of spaces available to park on campus 560 while the previous total was 435, according to McEnrue.

Even with the short-term inconveniences like fewer seats and computers in the library, a relocated circulation desk and long walks to and from the parking lot, Colvson remains positive.

“It’s a sign of the health of SUNY New Paltz. We are building our spaces,” said Colvson. “It is a short term pain, and it’s not fun, but the end result is going to be really wonderful for us.”