The students of Notre Dame have grown accustomed to navigating their way through construction projects undertaken by the university. In addition to the ongoing construction for Campus Crossroads, students will soon have to maneuver through the renovation of Hesburgh Library.
The University began renovations on Dec. 22, after final exams and a “Farewell to the Floor” celebration. The university says the renovation will “address the changing needs of students, faculty and staff as they encounter new and evolving forms of scholarship in the digital age.”
The first phase of the project will revamp the library’s entrance gallery and the tenth floor. Construction crews will knock out part of the first floor ceiling, which will turn a section of the second floor into a balcony open to the room below. The library’s North Entrance will get a facelift and a new skylight. A south entrance will also be added. An additional reading room will be added to the second floor, and both the tenth and second floors will be rearranged to maximize window prominence and natural light.
To quell students’ worries that construction will be noisy and distracting, the library has scheduled construction work for times when the library is least busy. They’ve also created a system of mobile alerts, called Ren-Alerts, to inform students when portions of the library may be inaccessible or disruptive.
Future phases involve modernizing the library and creating additional quiet study spots. The school will replace the library’s decades-old, pervasive wooden cubicles with more modern furniture. They will also add a scholar’s lounge, a special collections room and a grand reading room. The grand reading room, designed to be a quiet study area, will face west and span two stories.
Future execution of the library’s construction phases will take place over several years, reliant upon subsequent donations.
Students’ responses to the library renovations have been mixed. According to sophomore psychology major Natalie Vos of Walsh Hall, “On the positive side, this will open up a lot of space, including the coveted window space, for students to study and allow for more natural light and better lighting in general.”To mark the beginning of construction, all the tables and desks were removed from the first and second floors. The library hosted a “Farewell to the Floor” Open House on Dec. 10 and let students leave messages in Sharpie on the soon-to-be-demolished portion of the second floor.
There is also some hope that the renovations will improve overall ambiance.Vos says, “It would be less depressing to study in the library.”
However, there are downsides to the construction. “I understand that the school wants to renovate the library to celebrate 50 years, but it’s just bad timing with Campus Crossroads and the new architecture building being built at the same time,” Vos says.
Freshman David Clark, an Environmental Engineer from Dillon Hall agrees that the timing has been difficult. "It was inconvenient that the second floor tables were removed during finals, when finding space to study in the library is hard enough, but I'm looking forward to being able to resume my studying in the new second floor space once the renovations are completed,” he says.
More information and blueprints of the intended renovations are available at renovation.library.nd.edu. You can also sign up for renovation alerts at the same web address if you would like to be notified about the construction.