As students walked into the Harold C. Smith Learning Commons seeking a quiet study environment during the beginning of the fall semester, they were welcomed by the high pitched tone of drilling and grinding metal. Staring face to face with grey dividers, students were met with the words, “Construction in progress.”
Despite the grand opening of the new Learning Commons, the facility still appeared to be a work in progress. As midterms signify the halfway mark of the 2017 fall semester, many students had grown frustrated with the ongoing construction, claiming that it disrupted the primary aspect of a library: silence.
“I have not been there in weeks, because of [the construction],” explained sophomore Shannon Anfuso.
Fortunately for Anfuso and the entire student body, the major construction inside the Learning Commons is finally coming to a close after 16 long months. According to Greg Walters, Director of Facilities, the loud construction that students have experienced thus far is expected to conclude by Friday, Oct. 20 for the dedication ceremony of the Harold C. Smith Learning Commons.
“The major items of the construction will be finished this week before the ribbon cutting,” said Walters. “We still have some minor items to finish, however these will not change the use/operation of the building. They are aesthetic and/or function based.”
While there has been growing frustration among students throughout this process, the Learning Commons staff is confident that the finished product will be worth it. Director of Library Services, Andrea Taupier, explained how the staff members envision both students and faculty will use the building to support their academic needs.
“When we were in the part of asking [students], ‘When we renovate this building, what do you want?’ the number one [request] was the group study space, the second was 24-hour study space, which has been in place now for about three weeks, the third thing was the cafe, and the fourth thing was a quiet study floor,” said Taupier.
With the exception of the cafe, which Walters reports that facilities is, “working diligently on,” the four aspects that students requested were the core of the renovation process and have been completed. However, Taupier acknowledges the students’ frustrations and would like to help both students, as well as faculty, gain a better understanding of how to fully utilize the Learning Commons.
“Because we moved into the building before it was really ready for primetime, I’d like to do what I’m calling a ‘Building Reboot,’ where we go back out and explain, ‘Here are the systems that are working now. Here’s how we’re planning on doing things,’” said Taupier. “When you’re still at an active construction site, some of that stuff can’t happen yet.”
The “Building Reboot” will likely take place going into the second semester, to ensure that all the technology is installed and ready for use. Taupier encourages any feedback in regard to how to explain the technology in a way that is convenient for students, as well as some overall likes or dislikes of aspects of the new Learning Commons.
“I would welcome people to email me and tell me what would be the best way to help students learn to use the building, once we’re ready to show everybody and everything is working,” explained Taupier. “This [facility] is absolutely designed for the students, and so we really want their feedback.”
Andrea Taupier can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or in her office, room 206A on the second floor of the Learning Commons.