After the Cross Campus Library is renovated, students may no longer have to rely on vending machines for sustenance while they study.
Library staff members filled about 50 desks in the Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall Thursday as architects Gary Ainge and Tom Beeby pitched preliminary designs for renovations to CCL, which will begin in spring 2006. The proposed renovations require gutting existing facilities in favor of a more efficient and attractive use of the available space, Beeby said. The linchpin of the current plans is a lounge area where a staff of snack vendors will sell food, which would replace the automated food and drink dispensers in the Machine City study area.
Though Ainge said the plans are still flexible, the redesign includes changes to nearly every aspect of the underground study spot.
Beeby said the renovations are long overdue. After suffering from decades of leaks and other structural problems, he said CCL no longer stacks up well against comparable University facilities.
“We think this is going to have an enormous impact on how the library is used,” Beeby said. “The idea is to transform what is essentially a severely impoverished facility at Yale into something that is like the library on the other side of the street.”
The architects said two new CCL entrances will be erected directly on the Cross Campus walkway in front of SML. These entrances would lead into the new lounge area, while the current entrances would function only as exits, Beeby said.
Inside the library, Beeby said large central tables will make up the crux of the upper and lower levels. CCL’s private rooms or “weenie bins” will be reconfigured to make room for classrooms and electronic workspaces designed for approximately 20 students, Associate University Librarian Danuta Nitecki said. Beeby said the new series of more private work spaces will be “glazed” with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and accentuated with brick rather than the current plaster dry walls. In addition to the brick surfaces, wood trim and tile floors have been designed to evoke a less gloomy atmosphere, he said.
Ainge said the redesigned CCL will more closely mirror the Sterling Memorial Library directly above it, and Beeby said his intent was to remove the underground space’s sense of isolation. But one librarian who asked to remain anonymous said the plans do little to alleviate the separation between the above-ground and underground facilities.
“I don’t really see that,” the librarian said. “I can see it becoming more of an undergraduate ghetto than we had imagined.”
Postdoctoral fellow Daphnee Rentfrow said the redesign seemed difficult to navigate, and she was concerned that student traffic to and from classrooms around the new CCL’s central study areas would limit quiet individual study space. But Beeby said traffic does not seem like an issue in the library.
“The issue now with Cross Campus is a concern that there’s no circulation,” Beeby said. “There’s nobody there. That’s what we’re trying to change.”
More general renovations include the replacement of air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as repairs to the CCL roof’s drainage system. Beeby said issues of elevator capacity, food preservation and waste removal have not yet been addressed, but technical drawings are not scheduled for completion until October, when the search for contractors is expected to begin.
CCL will be closed during the renovation process, which is expected to last from the end of the spring 2006 semester until the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year. During that time, CCL volumes will be moved temporarily into Sterling collections or permanently into the SML stacks, Nitecki said. When renovations are completed, most of the books — the library will discard old editions — will return underground.