Library's five-year renovation begins

The Homer Babbidge Library on the Storrs campus will undergo a three-phase master renovation plan. The fourth floor will be reconfigured around April of this year to create additional meeting spaces. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

The first of a three-phase master plan to significantly renovate the University of Connecticut’s Homer Babbidge Library over the course of the next five years will soon begin.

“This spring we’re refreshing the lobby when you come off of Fairfield Way, the newsstand area,” library assistant vice provost Holly Phillips said. “We’ll make that a more comfortable, inviting space. We want to make a good impression for (prospective student tour groups). We’re also changing out some furniture on the Plaza Level.”

Level four will be reconfigured around April of this year to create additional meeting space in which events may be hosted, Phillips said.

“The space will provide the ability for provosts to have large meetings, the Humanities Institute to hold symposiums and to have speakers,” Phillips said. “There will be moveable furniture so anything from a big boardroom to a lecture hall can be made in the space.”

Level one will retain its computers, study areas and collaborative work areas as the Writing and Quantitative Learning Centers shift to level two after spring semester, according to Phillips. Phillips said that the shift may be completed by fall semester of 2017.

“After spring semester, we’re constructing a new space on level two for (the Writing and Quantitative Learning Centers),” Phillips said. “Really increasing their footprint is in line with rehabbing the older theatres (on level two).”

Husky Tech will move into level one once the Writing and Quantitative Learning Centers transfer to level two, according to Phillips.

“(Husky Tech) will have a front-facing, fully supported help desk. It’ll be wonderful for (students and faculty),” Phillips said.

According to Phillips, level three will be converted into a graduate student commons in the future.

“We opened (level three) up as a study space for students, who have been redirected upstairs to level four (this semester),” Phillips said. “Eventually it will become a graduate student commons.”

As level one is updated, the library will seek the opinions of UConn students regarding the improvements, library head of communications and engagement Jean Nelson said.

“We’ll do level one, then get input from students,” Nelson said. “They’ll be able to say, “These chairs look really cool but aren’t comfortable.’”

The library aims to maintain a high student-to-seat ratio while the renovations take place, according to Nelson.

“If we close an area we’re trying to open up another and keep the seat count up,” Nelson said.

The renovations will maximize the library’s efficient use of space, Phillips said.

“We’re reducing the collection footprint by investing in compact shelving for level A. This frees up space on the levels above,” Phillips said. “We’re making sure (the collection footprint) makes sense—that the humanities section is near the Humanities Institute, for example. We want cohesion across how the collection flows.”

UConn planners worked extensively with the library to develop the master plan and will continue to collaborate with the library as the renovations occur, Phillips said.

“UConn planners have been great to work with during this process,” Phillips said. “The planners do inventory of the number and types of chairs in the library.”

The library will inform UConn students about the renovations’ potential impacts on student ability to use the library, Phillips said.

“Over the next five years, we need to communicate so people don’t come back from a break and think, ‘Where’s my study space?,’” Phillips said.


Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.