Library books five-year renovation

The back of Homer Babbidge Library features an outdoor seating area. A 5-year renovation to the library will bring substantial changes. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

A master plan for substantially renovating the University of Connecticut’s Homer D. Babbidge Library over the course of the next five years will soon go into effect.  

Development of the plan began about 18 months ago following the re-evaluation of the 20-year renovation plan for the library which existed at that time, according to library head of Communications and Engagement Jean Nelson.

“[The 20-year plan] made significant changes, like [Bookworm’s Café] moving. Then reality hit: with a 20-year plan, time and funding would be an issue,” Nelson said. “Now, with the five-year plan, we’re trying to make it attainable, within a reasonable amount of time and for a reasonable amount of money.”

The library will be updated in three phases; the first phase should be completed within a year, the second in two to three years from now, and the third in three to five years from now, Nelson said.  

“In the first phase, the first floor will remain an active and collaborative space, but the [Quantitative Learning] and [Writing] Centers will move up to the second floor while the computers and printers will stay on the first floor,” Nelson said.

The first phase of renovations will also improve the library’s accessibility, according to Nelson.

“We want to fix the entrance by Fairfield Way,” Nelson said, “since tours always stop there, even though it’s a bad place to. We could also put furniture there so students could hang out.”

The library will be upgraded to be more approachable in the second phase of renovations, Nelson said.

“The double doors on Level B used to be the main entrance many years ago. The plan is to reuse Level B as an entry and exit point again, so [Level B] could then be a 24/7 space,” Nelson said. “A makerspace will also be put down there.”

Nelson said the final phase of renovations will enhance and complement UConn’s future plans for Storrs campus.

“The university plan is to open up access north to south, but the library’s kind of in the way, so we want to make [the library’s Plaza Level] flow so people can walk through the library,” Nelson said.

Several other planned improvements will better the library experience of UConn students, Nelson said.

“There will be flexible furniture, so a classroom could become a study space during finals,” Nelson said. “We’re also considering how to change [the library’s] infrastructure, with outlets and internet, so when they renovate an area, these will be updated.”

As University Planning, Design and Construction, in addition to focus groups and staff consultations, have contributed to the creation of the five-year renovation plan to date, student opinion about the library’s future will now be sought, Nelson said.  

“We hope to involve students as well, as they use the [library],” Nelson said. “We’re hoping with making [the library’s] space much more efficient, student seating will increase.”

Providing a glimpse of what is in store for the library, the Humanities Institute relocated to the library’s fourth floor last week, Nelson said.  

“[The Humanities Institute relocating] was part of the original [20-year renovation] plan that actually came to fruition,” according to Nelson.

Alexandra Retter is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at