Library welcomes students with a new face

Students study in the library. Recent renovations have improved and updated the technology center on the first floor of Homer Babbidge Library. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Substantial renovations to update the technology took place over the summer to the first floor of the University of Connecticut’s Homer Babbidge Library.

Library spokesperson Jean Nelson said the library, which welcomes about 6,000 students through its doors every day, has transformed itself to catch up with the technological wave and the way students utilize the library today.

“Libraries are changing. How people use them, how people get information, how we provide information it’s been in a lot of flux in the past few years,” Nelson said.

Nelson said these renovations are the first phase of updates that the library will see in the coming years. The entire renovations project is divided into four phases where the bulk of the work will occur in the summer months.

Accrding to documents from a board of trustees meeting on Dec. 7, 2016, the first phase of the project has a budget of $1,150,000 that comes from the UConn 2000 GO bonds and university bonds.

Nelson said the new floor allows for openness, collaboration and old and new technology to be intertwined to provide students with the tools they need for their education.

“Everyone comes to the library and uses it differently. You come one time and need to check your email and need that individual space, later in that day you come in and have a meeting. So we have to be flexible like that,” Nelson said.

Seventh-semester management information system major Alex Martinez said the renovated first floor allows for students to work together efficiently.

“The new first floor is a godsend for collaborating with teams for groups work. Much better for working together,” Martinez said.

According to Nelson, some of the technology includes writeable surfaces, 3-D printer labs, laser cutters, a data visualization lab and a recording studio, on top of already existing services.

Nelson said students will be able to use the 3-D printer labs without being part of the Engineering school, and the lab is one of the first ones on campus that is open to the public. She added that she hopes it drives creativity and innovation.

Nelson said the renovated first floor also features more outlets than the old design, which allows students to charge their personal devices.  

Dejanae Webb, a fifth-semester psychology major who transferred from the Waterbury campus, said the Babbidge is very different from the library at the regional campus.

“I like it so far, it’s spacious,” Webb said.

Martinez said although he feels the new, open and shiny feeling of the library is good, he prefers the mellow, darker feeling of the old design.

“I would have loved the old look and feel of the old floor but with all the new technology,” Martinez said.

In the upcoming weeks, focus groups and student feedback will be welcomed to make changes and move forward with the rest of the renovation, Nelson said.

Nelson said that after the four-phase renovation plan is complete, the library will be able to increase the space for students to use it.

“It was time, it’s great,” Nelson said. “It really helps to strengthen the core academic center.”


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.