Brace yourselves, change is coming Renovations begin in WSC library

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  • Graphic Image of Completed Building Renovations

  • Budget

  • Lower Level

  • First Floor

  • Second Floor

  • Attic Level

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Seth Miles, Staff Writer

Summer 2017 is the projected completion date for the extensive Conn Library renovation that will make the current facility pale in comparison.

The library is a central point on campus, a resource used by every student at one point or another.

“I see the library as a hub. It is in the center part of campus and spokes out to different areas of campus,” Director of Facilities Chad Altwine said.

“Compared to what other campuses have, our library building just isn’t up to the standards that we would expect,” WSC Library Director Dave Graber said. “It was built in an era when libraries were warehouses essentially. You had a whole lot of books and a whole lot of journals and that is basically what a library was. We moved into an era where most information is electronic.”

The library is on the verge of being in full renovation mode. There is a lot to be done and millions of dollars to be spent while turning the library from old and drab to a more modern and sleek building.

“Heating, ventilating and air conditioning are the main HVAC upgrades, and there is bringing things up to code in terms of handicap accessibility and fire and life safety codes,” Vice-President of Administration and Finance Jean Dale said.

The library struggles to keep cool in the summer and is drafty in the winter because of old windows, un-insulated outer walls and the outdated heating and airconditioning systems, according to Graber.

Additionally, each floor has to go through a process of asbestos abatement. The basement went through the process recently.

“We started with asbestos abatement first day of spring break. The asbestos abatement crew came in, and they worked for eight or ten days and now that process is completed,” Graber said. “Everything will be renovated with the exception of the outside walls, but the building will be totally gutted. We have already started at this point with sort of pre-phase one construction work, which is going on in the basement right now at the north end of the building.”

The basement is going to be holding a very important component of WSC. The network hub of the college is housed in the library.

“The process of building a new network hub room in the north end of the basement will happen after graduation in May. The network hub will be moved from its current location in the basement to the new room,” Graber said. “We don’t want to move any of the fibre-optic line or equipment when classes are in session. So we’re waiting for graduation in May for that move to take place.”

“All of the fibre-optic network for the entire campus feeds into a little closet into the basement of the library. What we are doing there is building in some redundancy and building two loops so that we can back feed if there is a problem,” Dale said. “We’ll have two different closets one in the basement and one in the attic so that we don’t have quite such a delicate situation. Just in case something should happen there.”

The network hub is being constructed in the first phase of the renovation to avoid problems when classes are in full swing.

“In late May, they will gut basically the northern two-thirds of the basement and that means they will demolish absolutely everything,” Graber said. “That means everything will be down to the bare concrete walls, bare concrete ceiling and bare concrete floors, and that will be phase one. They will spend about the next 10 months renovating that space and recreating it.”

All this is happening in phase one. There will be a total of six phases in all over a three-year span ending in July 2017. Many things will be improved during these phases.

“There is a lot of utility work going on that is associated with this building,” Altwine said. “There will be redundancy with our sewer lines and our water lines. Which adds a lot of value to the campus from an infrastructure point same way as electrical.”

Jackson and Jackson Associates from Omaha serve as architects of the renovation and Beckenhauer Construction Incorporated of Norfolk will manage the construction. Aesthetically, there will be a lot done to catch the eye of students, faculty, staff and visitors to the campus.

Glass windows will stretch from the ground floor and up, the Holland Academic Success Center
will be moved to the second floor of the library, and there will be moveable furniture, library shelves and areas form- fitting for a students.

“There will still be books and reading materials scattered throughout the library for students to just use on the spot, but a good share of the first floor will be open with moveable furniture or flexible furniture so students can arrange their learning space as they need it,” Dale said. “If you want to work in a group of four, by yourself, or in a larger group in a small enclosed room–all those things will be possible in the new space.”

“What is really important now is providing variety of study spaces for students. Give them spaces where they can study,” Graber said. “Rooms that they can collaborate in, spaces where the technology is integrated into the facility, spaces where they can have perfectly silence study, as well as, spaces where they can be loud. We need to accommodate a variety of learning styles.”

Jitters will be expanding and moving in the library, offering a larger area and an even larger menu.

“They are going to incorporate some new features like Red Mango yogurt, but they will be closed in by a glassed in area so it is not as noisy for the students,” Dale said.

WSC students are getting excited about the renovations.

“I think it is a good thing that it is happening, because when you walk into a library it does kind of have a outdated feel. The couches, the chairs and it all looks a little outdated,” freshman Kaylee Krotter said. “I think it’ll be good to have a new coffee shop because that will get more people excited to go to Wayne. It’s one of the things that is a main attraction. I think it is pretty cool.”

If you don’t want to be confined to the glassed-in Jitters, there are other options.

“We are going to be putting in windows on the south side and a little patio type of area out there, so people can take their drinks and things and go out there,” Dale said.

The north entrance will go under construction next year.

“There will be a new entry door to the north that will face Petersen Fine Arts,” Altwine said. “You can come from fine arts after an event and view the art gallery or go to Jitters.”

There will be other entrances into the library.

“We are going to knock a temporary entry into the south wall in May, and that will be the only way in and out of the building next year,” Graber said.

With all this work going on, students have to wonder if it will affect their education, and faculty and staff have to wonder how it will affect them.

“The process will be challenging. The next three years are going to involve a lot of people dislocated from their workplaces, dislocated from their favorite study places and there will be a certain amount of noise that will occur with construction,” Graber said. “The library will remain open throughout this process, but students will hear some noise they aren’t accustomed to hearing.”

The current estimate is that the renovation will cost anywhere from $20 to 21 million, according to Dale. These monies include $12 million in state appropriations, $2.9 million in cigarette tax and $3 million in Wayne State Foundation pledges.

“We are using some capital improvement fees of about $700 ,000 and there is tuition cash money,” Dale said. “We had set aside some cash for the Carhart project which we didn’t need, so I have transferred that over to be used for the library. I have about $3.2 million total in cash. Chartwells is responsible for the cost of their renovation as well.”

All the funding allows for more than just a basic renovation.

“I am very grateful that we received the funding. We could have just done a HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) update and improved that, but we wanted to do so much more,” Dale said. “And in order to do that, it took the state funding and all of the different contributions from the different elements.”

All things considered, Conn Library is going to be more than periodicals.

“When you do a particular dorm, it benefits those students that happen to live in that dorm, and when you do a science building it benefits students who take science classes,” Graber said. “The nice thing about a library remodel is we support students across about every academic discipline.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a business, education, criminal justice or a science major. Everybody tends to use this building. The nice thing about it is going to benefit all the students. We serve them all or at least attempt to.”