With plans to renovate the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) during the next academic year, the school is relocating current library spaces to other buildings on campus.
According to Michael Barker, Director of Academy Research, Information, and Library Services, Lower Left in Paresky Commons will serve as the Garver Room, better known among students as “Silent Study.” In addition, The Nest will be transferred to a classroom in the Gelb Science Center, and the PACC and IT Office will move into the Polk Lillard Center.
Barker said, “Lower Left will be outfitted with about 92 seats, and it will be Silent Study. That’s what we hope. It’s not like a place that you eat. It really will feel like a change of mind and require the whole community [to] kind of change their minds around how Paresky Lower Left works.”
Furthermore, Barker said that Upper Left in Paresky Commons will be open after dinner times as a study space, with 75 to 80 seats.
These changes in location were discussed this Tuesday in an open forum. In addition to discussing new plans for Silent Study, faculty and students discussed the overall renovation plan for the OWHL. The plan is set to completion at the start of the 2019–2020 academic year.
Davis Barrow ’20 said, “I think [the renovation is] a great opportunity for the school. I’ve talked to a lot of prospective parents who are excited about it, and it’s setting Andover apart from other schools in the area. It’s going to help us get a leg up in our studies. The library’s such a central part of the campus, because it is not only a place where people work and learn but [where] they also socialize.”
Over the past few months, almost half of the books in the OWHL stacks areas have been transferred to the Smith Center. The rest of the library’s collections are to be moved out after the end of this academic year.
Students seeking to check out books will have to request them via the OWHL’s online catalog. Next year, books in the Smith Center will be sent to a new Circulation Desk in Lower Left for student pickup. The Archives close temporarily for the year.
“With a little bit of configuration on our catalog, we’ll make them requestable, and you will be able to request a book in about two or three… days. Request the book, and we’ll go get the book, and we’ll make them available at that service center, where you’ll pick them up,” said Barker.
The OWHL renovation team hopes to utilize other spaces on campus, including George Washington Hall (GW) and the Underwood Room. Barker said that GW could be convenient to turn into a study space. The Underwood Room has the potential to serve as a combination of a lounge space and a study space.
Some students have expressed their concerns regarding the lack of readily available print books and the absence of the Stacks, which provide privacy for many students.
“For those people who rely on books [rather] than digital media to find entertainment and to find intellectual stimuli, I think that [the absence of physical books] in itself is kind of depriving the regular students of the resources to be great [and] to be intellectual,” said Eddy Lee ’19.
Lee continued, “We also need to have places like Stacks where people can find the privacy.”
Barker said that he could relate to Lee’s concern about not having a space like the Stacks.
“I did that in college myself. Stacks would be a place I’d find some sanctuary. I might not have any great suggestions for the temporary [replacement]… But I would also say in the interim, go to the Addison [Gallery of American Art], go to the Peabody [Institute of Archeology], spend some time in the [Cochran] Chapel, go take a walk in the [Cochran Bird] Sanctuary. I think there’s so many resources on campus to find sanctuary,” said Barker.
Because the renovation of the OWHL is projected to be complete in the September of 2019, current Uppers and Seniors will not experience the renovated library.
“We are definitely getting the short end of the stick, [but] it sounds like the library renovation is going to be a really nice upgrade, and I think future classes would really benefit a lot from it,” said Floyd Greenwood ’19.
Barker said, “I credit the current Uppers and Seniors, at least in some part, [for] all the ideas they’ve brought, and the last graduating class too… Those were really inspiring to myself and the staff. [They were] one of the reasons we saw potential for what a renovated building could look like. I think it all goes back to student ideas and creativity and what they’re about. I feel bad they are going to miss out [but], on the other hand, credit them for being people who really influence the decision.”
Barker emphasized that the OWHL renovation team is trying its best to find a balance between the historic and the futuristic while emphasizing productivity in the new library renovation.
“It’s not all about building a [bigger version of The Nest] and all. We also need to think about people who are not involved or interested in [The Nest] and more. That’s why we are going to have ten more group study rooms… Because, in addition to reading books and the social aspect, it is also about getting your work done,” said Barker.