Minor setbacks during renovations to Fondren Library’s south reading room pushed its expected completion date to Nov. 23, according to Vice Provost and university librarian Sara Lowman. The renovations were originally expected to be completed over midterm recess.
The south reading room has been closed since May for renovations aimed at creating a study space that is more representative of what students want, Lowman said. According to Lowman, the completion was postponed due to delays in carpet and furniture delivery.
“[Students] wanted more comfortable furniture, better lighting, better window coverings, not necessarily just technology and different types of seating,” Lowman said. “A lot of time has been spent trying to figure out how to best use our resources to support how students want the library to function.”
The GIS/Data Center began studying where students prefer to study in Fondren Library in response to feedback that students were having difficulties locating places to study. It counted the number of students every hour and mapped the usage of almost every study space, according to Lowman.
The library staff used this information to determine where students like to study and what furniture they prefer. According to Lowman, the staff’s goal was to provide for the possible needs of students in a range of situations.
“We try to provide a wide variety of seating arrangements to reflect how you may want to sit in a lounge chair when you’re reading a book, or you may want to have a study room or a two-person carrel,” Lowman said. “We’ve tried to update the library spaces to reflect the current study experience that students have.”
Duncan College freshman Sam Boyle said she thought the renovations will be a positive addition to the library’s existing study spaces.
“[The south reading room] is kind of out of the way, and I’m usually in the library at night, so I haven’t really noticed it being worked on,” Boyle said. “But it’ll be great to have more large tables for group work on the first floor.”
Lowman said she hopes that the newly renovated south reading room will become popular among students.
“At night, students tend to study on the first floor. I think it feels busier and more active, and probably a little safer,” Lowman said. “So I predict that this area is going to be very popular for studying.”