What is going on with the new library?

New renovation plans spark controversy
Gabriel Theriault – Argosy Illustrator

A staple of being a student at a small undergraduate university means that often, you are surrounded by people who have opinions on what the university should and should not be doing. This was no exception when the new library renovation plans were released January 31st. You will know what I am discussing if you check Mt. A’s Instagram post comments. The Ralph P. Bell Library is a student favorite on campus. We can all agree that many of the students at Mt. A are keeners. Many of us consider the library a second home during the academic year and spend many hours there each week. If you send a poll around campus, you would likely find that most students have a favorite floor of the library, a favorite treat at the Flying Bean or a fun fact they like to tell people about the building. 


I doubt every student here cannot find a place in the library that feels right for them. Whether it be the hidden theater, the little calm room on the red floor, or the miniature library within the library up on the third floor, many places within the library are unique to the students here,  past and present. Because we are so fond of this unique building on campus, we also find ourselves quite protective of any changes to its charm and welcoming environment. Many students needed to be made aware that the new renovations to the library would mean a complete change in style. Far from homey and hospitable, the new renovations are overwhelmingly modern, clean, and disorienting. This is not to say that the new renovations are not beautiful — I am sure most of us find them quite tasteful in the right place. 


The problem for me is that I like the library how it is right now, and many of my peers feel similarly. Though most of us will not be here by the time the new library is up and running, we worry that students will not be able to experience all that this building has to offer in the future. In the many surveys circulated on campus last year, we should have emphasized what we already appreciated about our library. Change is always tricky, and even though we have heard whispers of this new library, the consensus seems that students feel blindsided by the new design. 


Compared to other buildings on campus, I have heard few complaints about the current library. Mt. A is a campus prides itself on its cozy but lively charm. Take a building like Hart Hall, for example. Though it certainly needs updating, I am confident that students would be upset if they were to modernize it completely. We live in a world that is constantly changing. Although sometimes it seems like this generation is pushing for white lighting, high ceilings and minimalism, there is an equal struggle to hold on to things that remind us of comfort, warmth and the smell of hot coffee and muffins in the morning. In saying all this, I do not necessarily agree that the new renovation plans are terrible.


 Instead, these new plans should have considered that most students already like the library the way it is. Many students worry that one new building heading in this direction means the other buildings could soon follow suit. I hope the new renovation will consider keeping some of the elements we hold dear in our library and adding back some timeless aspects that students will love for years. 

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