Hunt Library to be renovated

Long hours of doing homework and studying for tests may soon be brightened up by future renovations of the Hunt Library. The layout for the renovations is still in the design and planning process, but those involved have high hopes to completely change the ambiance of the entire library.

The three innovators of this project are Diane Mattingly, a junior chemical engineering major, Courtney Baker, a sophomore chemical engineering major, and Erica Spiritos, a sophomore civil and environmental engineering major.

Mattingly, Baker, and Spiritos got the idea for these changes to the library from their own firsthand experiences of spending long days and nights in Hunt, studying and waiting for classes. A university library should be a warm, welcoming, accessible, navigable, comfortable study environment, the three students said.

However, they thought that many Carnegie Mellon students didn’t feel comfortable in the library.

They realized that some books are difficult to find, computers and workspaces are hard to come by (especially during finals week), colors are drab, the furniture is mismatched and uncomfortable, and the overall atmosphere is not ideally conducive to studying comfortably.

Generally, the ambiance and services that Hunt provides do not reflect the prestige of this university, the three students said.

They noted that students spend a lot of time in the library into the late hours of the night, and ever since the library became open 24 hours on certain days of the week, it has been even more populated than ever.

Spiritos moved off campus this year and has begun to spend a lot of time at the library between classes. As she spent more time at the library, she became more observant of the space that she was working in.

Spiritos wondered if other people shared the same opinions as she did about the library environment, and so she asked her friends and tried to survey as many people as she could on their thoughts and opinions. She found from her informal survey and conversations that the majority of the student body would like to see an increase in the amount of workspace, more comfortable furniture, and a better system of book organization, among other things.

Spiritos wondered if she could help start the initiative to renovate the interior of the library. She met with Gloriana St. Clair, dean of university libraries, and the Library Student Advisory Council, and soon the project was underway.

Spiritos then joined with friends Baker and Mattingly to start the movement.
One of the first changes the team plans to implement is a student-designed, student-painted mural in the stairwell of the library to capture both the university’s artistic side and to personalize the space a little bit more.

Spiritos, Baker, and Mattingly do not have a design yet, but they are working with a committee of undergraduate art students to design the mural.

If all goes as planned, they are hoping to paint the mural during Summit in January for all students to see when they return to campus for the spring semester.

Some of the team’s future projects include purchasing new electric staplers and electric hole punchers for each floor and 10 whiteboard tables on the second floor.

On a larger scale, they have begun to work on the architecture in planning with the interior design company Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) “to design a new layout for the library furniture, shelving, and workspace, as well as a new color scheme,” Spiritos said.

BCJ is the same company that designed the Intelligent Workplace and the Software Engineering Institute for Carnegie Mellon.

Representatives from BCJ will mentor a select group of architecture undergraduates in the midst of the process.

Future large-scale renovations include refurnishing the library with new desk, lounge, and reading chairs; creating a new, unified color scheme for the library, and coordinating the walls and furniture; completing the transition from the Dewey Decimal system to the Library of Congress system; and possibly figuring out a new layout for work spaces, group-study areas, and bookshelves.

There have also been discussions about adding mosaic tile designs to some tables and covering them with Plexiglas for a smooth work surface, as well as pulling some old photographs from archives to decorate the library walls.

The coordinators of this project all have high hopes, but they know that, as with all good things, these changes will take a lot of time and effort.

They want to make sure that they are improving the library for everyone — they see this project as a way to give back to the school and leave a permanent mark. They are always looking for more people to join their team.

All interested students can contact