University | 4:41 pm | September 5, 2013 | By Wesley Yiin

University Librarian updates campus on SML construction

Sterling Memorial Library's nave will be under construction until September 2014.
Sterling Memorial Library's nave will be under construction until September 2014. Photo by Blair Seideman.

If you haven’t yet noticed the iconic blue scaffolding on Sterling Memorial Library, take note: Yale’s very own “Cathedral of Knowledge” is under renovation for the next year.

Work on the nave of Sterling began this past June and will culminate in September 2014, meaning that, during this 15-month period, visitors and overeager parents will not be able to tour the card catalog, circulation desk and “Mother Yale” painting — a favorite among tour guides.

Part of the renovation focuses on the restoration of woodwork, stone, stained glass windows, and the famed Alma Mater painting, according to a Wednesday email from University Librarian Susan Gibbons to the Yale community. New heating and air conditioning will also be installed, a feature that should hopefully alleviate the woes of cold study nights.

In addition, the renovation will feature a more practical configuration of the nave that allows for more self-service. Preliminary sketches of the new interior show that the south aisle, which currently is lined with catalog cabinets, will be converted into a seating area. Meanwhile, along the north wall, visitors will find an iDesk, providing information and traditional library services. Finally, the circulation desk will transform into a self-checkout hub, while also providing easier access to the stacks.

Like all good things, this spectacular construction comes with a price to Yalies. No, not money — the renovation is financed by a $20 million gift from Richard Gilder ’54 and his wife, Lois Chiles. Instead, Yalies may have to give up their precious study spaces  in the Stacks — reading rooms are still open but prone to disturbance by construction sounds.

Thankfully, Gibbons included in her email a list of study spaces compiled earlier in the year by the library. And hey, there’s always Bass!

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