The wait is almost over for a new library

The library under construction last spring

The library under construction last spring

Students at the University of Denver have been struggling for over a year to find a quiet place to study on campus, since their beloved library has been closed for remodeling.

At one point there were rumors that the library would be completed by the October 3 Presidential Debate, but that date has since been pushed back to anywhere between January and March, hopefully.

While a temporary library has been set up in the Driscoll North Ballroom, many students find it difficult to concentrate with so many students in a small space. “I usually either go to the Daniels College of Business or the Morgridge School of Education building, try to find quiet space and use noise cancelling headphones,” says Junior George Cooper of Mountain View, CA. “I find the temporary library just too small and distracting. I feel claustrophobic and end up people watching more than working.”

Worth the Wait?

While it is definitely a nuisance for students, many students believe that it will be worth the wait. “I could never focus on my work in the old library,” says Junior Jen O’Connor of Chicago. “The downstairs was always kind of loud due to the math and writing centers, the upstairs individual cubicles were kind of creepy, and the red walls were so distracting. The entire place was just very ugly overall.”

Even those who have never used the library are happy it is being remodeled. “When I was touring DU, the one building on the main campus that stood out was the library – and not in a good way,” says Freshman Lewis Cobb of Indianapolis, IN. “All the other buildings looked up to date and the library looked like it was stuck in the 1970’s.”

Luckily, Penrose Library will soon be the Academic Commons, with many windows to promote an open feel, and to let in as much Colorado sunlight as possible. There will be many small and large group study rooms, and plenty of individual quiet study areas as well.

“Building construction should be done by February, but the library will not be open until spring break,” says Erin Meyer, Research Center Coordinator and Student Outreach Librarian of Penrose Library. “We have to move books and services in, and we do not want to interrupt people in the middle of the quarter.  We have over 3 million items to move.”

What to Expect

The whole project is projected to cost about $32 million, and will increase the current size of the library from one acre to an extra 10,000 square feet for a new loading dock area, an expanded café and reading rooms.

The entire building will be very technologically advanced, and students will be able to able to use tools with resources in research, writing, math and digital media.

On top of that, the patio looking over Carnegie Green and the Front Porch Café inside the library will be great places to take a break and allow students to continue their caffeine binge.

Students are hoping for late night food options in the new library, and they should get what they want: “The new Penrose Library is under construction, so we are thinking of different options for food in the library, and we want a menu that is good for all hours, including late night,” said Ira Simon, Resident District Manager of Denver Dining Services. “Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night are all difficult in a small environment to have a wide variety of things, so we have to think about what we can offer to meet the students’ needs, and we are doing our best.”

The new library nearing completion in January 2013

The new library nearing completion in January 2013

Opening Date Delayed

Unfortunately, the building project started back in mid July of 2011, and could take anywhere between 18 and 24 months, according to the Penrose website. Based on that analysis, the completion date could be anywhere between January and July, 2013. That is a very large gap of time, considering that it makes the difference between students being able to use the facilities the second half of the year, or not until the 2013-2014 school year.

“At one point we were hoping the library would be open in December, to open for winter quarter, but we figured out in the summer that it would be delayed,” says Meyer.

However, as many students have been saying, the delay could be worth the wait. “All of the mechanicals (heating, cooling, plumbing) in the building were 40 years old,” says Meyer. “We have been planning for 10 years, but there was also not enough space. Over 3600 students use the library in one day, all of the study rooms were always booked and busy, and we needed to update the power.”

“There will be a lot more seating for students, including three times as many group study rooms,” says Meyer. “There will be two quiet study areas, and a lot more seats in more places. Also, it will be a more environmentally and human friendly building: better traffic flow, natural light, and more power outlets.”

So while many students have been complaining for months, the wait is almost over, and what was once considered an ugly and inefficient building will have quite the makeover as a place where students can flourish and work hard in an intellectually stimulating environment.




One Response to The wait is almost over for a new library

  • Emily Bowman
    Emily Bowman says:

    I really like the subject you chose for your issue story, because it’s news that a lot of DU students actually want to know more about.I know I got a lot of my questions answered about the construction of the library from your article. Good work!

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