Although major renovations to Sterling Memorial Library were completed earlier this year, a new construction project in the library has just begun.
Last month, refurbishment began on the Franke Family Reading Room, which was previously known as the Periodicals Reading Room, to convert the space into a interim reading room for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The project is slated to be completed by May 1 and will transform the room so that faculty, students and staff will be able to continue research with rare books and manuscripts throughout the Beinecke renovation, which is scheduled for completion by the fall 2016 semester. Despite the temporary loss of study space, E.C. Schroeder, director of the Beinecke Library, said the benefits of the project outweigh the costs.
“The alternative [to the Franke Family Reading Room project] is that we don’t have a reading room for the Beinecke during its renovation,” he said. “From my perspective — and I am biased obviously — that is a major concern for the University.”
He said the renovation of the Franke room has three major components: dividing the space for faculty and staff, upgrading the electrical and security systems and improving the climate control of the room for sensitive materials.
The University plans to construct a wall to divide the room in half, which will allow both Beinecke staff and readers to have their own workspace, Schroeder said. The room will be able to house 15 staff members and 38 researchers.
In addition, the room is currently undergoing a security upgrade, which will include the installation of security cameras in the reading room and safety glass on the windows to prevent against break-ins.
“The Franke was selected since it is the largest reading room space available; it was relatively easy to convert it into a temporary reading room and it is also convenient,” Schroeder said. “We needed it to be as easy as possible to bring material in because all the material is coming from outside Sterling.”
Last spring, all of the periodicals previously in the Franke Family Reading Room were relocated to another room. This left the shelves of the Franke room empty during the fall 2014 semester.
Adjacent to the Franke reading room, the International Room is also undergoing a transformation of its own.
Schroeder said the space will be converted into a classroom for special collections, in which examples of books from Shakespeare’s time or other rare material can still be presented to students in a classroom setting.
He added that the cost to renovate the spaces — estimated at several hundred thousand dollars — will primarily go toward updating the air-conditioning systems in the reading rooms.
Some students interviewed expressed disappointment that the Franke reading room would no longer be available as a study space in the coming months.
“I used to work in there all the time, for close to two years; it was fairly quiet, spacious and well-lit,” Alec Downie ’16 said. “I’ve yet to settle on a better place to study right now.”
David Better ’15 said he used to go to the reading room whenever he had serious work to complete since it was rarely overcrowded and provided personal space. He added that he is hopeful he can find an alternate space to study with similar qualities.
However, others expressed that the temporary closing of the Beinecke necessitated the project.
“We have a lot of study space on campus plenty and places to work,” Evan Green ’17 said. “But the Beinecke reading room is more unique.”