Cross Campus Library, the underground study spot that has weathered decades of wear and tear, has an internal layout some library officials call inefficient and many students characterize as drab. But the popular research and study facility is another step closer to renovation.

The architectural firm of Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, Inc., has begun designing structural and floor plans for a new incarnation of CCL in what Associate University Librarian Danuta Nitecki called “Phase 2A” of the library renovations. Nitecki and Laura Cruickshank, the University’s senior renovations architect and construction planner, gave the firm’s representatives a preliminary tour of CCL last week.

Cruickshank said the design phase is scheduled to be completed by December 2005 with construction set to begin in the summer of 2006. She said she expects the CCL renovations to be completed by the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year. The primary impetus for the complete renovation of CCL is the library’s structural deterioration, Cruickshank said.

“The CCL has had a number of problems over the past bunch of years,” she said. “When you go into a library and see sheets of polyethylene on top of the stacks it’s not a good sign. There’s a lot of water that leaks in, the roofing membrane that covers the underground has really exceeded its lifetime — there are cracks coming in through the roof — and the lighting and mechanical has also outlived its lifetime.”

Redesigning CCL to meet today’s building codes — including wheelchair access between shelving stacks and widened stairways — is a key focus of the initial renovation designs. But University Librarian Alice Prochaska said leaders of the renovation project are looking beyond structural concerns.

“This is a great opportunity to redesign the whole of CCL and the adjacent parts of the Sterling [Memorial Library] basement to incorporate improvements to the environment, and to make it all a better study space for modern habits of learning and study,” Prochaska said.

Nitecki said specific aspects of the proposed renovation designs include an expansion of the existing book collection to include 150,000 total volumes, a media research library including CDs and DVDs, and two new classrooms with multimedia research support, bringing the total number of CCL classrooms to four.

The underground library currently features an experimental space offering additional media technology that supports an increased demand for advanced media technology and will serve as a prototype for the new multimedia classrooms, Chuck Powell, Yale’s director of academic media and technology, said.

But Nitecki said the essence of the conceptual redesign, which a panel chaired by Prochaska planned in December, is the integration of space for individual study with group and librarian-assisted study areas.

“What we don’t have a lot of is space for students meeting to learn in groups,” Nitecki said. “So we wanted to think how could the space be redesigned to accommodate that.”

Cruickshank said the panel has considered suggestions it collected from students and faculty, such as concerns about a lack of natural light sources and the library’s decor.

“The sense we got was that CCL was the space you could go to in your pajamas, and Sterling felt like you needed to be in a suit,” Cruickshank said.

Some students said the relative lack of group study areas is among their primary concerns with the current CCL facilities.

“It’s nice to have sitting areas, but they’re kind of geared toward individual studying,” Iris Ma ’06 said. “When you’re with a group, people glare at you.”

Prochaska said she is optimistic the renovations will rejuvenate CCL for the forseeable future.

“I look forward to seeing a more beautiful, light and spacious CCL, linked to the former Machine City — where there may be classrooms– and by elevator to the first floor of Sterling,” she said. “It will be well equipped and flexible enough to be adapted to changing needs as new generations of students change their own learning habits.”

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