Patience towards Pius finally pays off

Beginning on January 30, the barren library landscape will begin its transformation.

Beginning on January 30, the barren library landscape will begin its transformation.

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Beginning on January 30, the barren library landscape will begin its transformation.

After nearly a year of gathering student input, planning, revising, debating and planning some more, Saint Louis University’s Pius XII Memorial Library will finally receive its long-awaited facelift.

Unlike the original plans put forth by the 2010-11 SGA which stressed an architectural revamping, Pius Library’s interior will receive the bulk of the improvements.

According to Director of Pius Library David Cassens, the project will begin on January 30th. The fourth and fifth floors of the library will be the first to be upgraded and will not be available to the public until their completion date on March 16.

Beginning March 19, the second and third floors of the library will begin their improvement process and will remain closed until April 27. Finally, the first floor will receive renovations beginning on April 30.  Cassens said that the first floor, along with the entirety of the Pius Library improvements, should be finished by June 1.

The upgrades include all new furniture through most of the library, additional direct lighting sources, new floor and ceiling tiles, added study spaces, improved wireless internet connectivity, more electric outlets and an entire new entranceway to Pius Library. Furthermore, the carrel desks on the fifth floor will be kept.

Student Government Association President Matt Ryan said that “95 percent” of the existing furniture in Pius Library will be replaced.

“There will be almost all new furniture,” Ryan said. “We actually found that on the fifth floor people like the carrels, those really big study things, so they’ll stay. Some people like that boxed in feel. Other than that, it’s 95 percent all new furniture.”

Ryan also added that new study rooms will be added throughout Pius Library, with capacities ranging from two to 10 students.

According to Cassens, construction on the new entrance will begin in mid-February. The entrance will lead to West Pine Mall and face the Simon Recreation Center.  Cassens said that the Student Government Association requested the additional entrance.

“We’re returning to the original Pius,” Cassens said. “The footprint where the new entrance is going to be is where the original entrance to Pius existed when there was actually a street where West Pine Mall is.”

Cassens said that the new wireless internet will allow students to connect to more data points throughout the library while increasing speed and user capacity.

“When the library is heavily used, particularly during exam period, a lot of people are trying to connect with tablets or laptops. We currently have a simultaneous capacity of 330 users. When approached it gets sluggish,” Cassens said. “The connection will be improved, and it will be at least six times faster than it is now.”

 

During the construction periods, students will be available to check out books located on inaccessible floors via the circulation desk or by requesting the book via the Pius Library website. Cassens said that requesting a book from the catalog online will take longer, however.

Cassens said that when the second and third floors close on March 19, the St. Louis room will be accessible. The Lewis Annex will remain open throughout the semester, even when the second floor undergoes construction.

When construction on the first floor begins on April 30, Cassens said it will be “the most significant construction project”. When all is said and done, the staff offices located on the first floor will be removed as well as the Knights Room. Furthermore, the computer area will be moved to the western side of Pius Library facing the Samuel Cupples House.

In the meantime, the first floor computers will be moved to the second floor in the Anheuser Busch wing, allowing students computer and printer access.

Both Cassens and Ryan agreed that students will be accommodated and given study space in the library. Typically, students are forced to relocate to the first floor after 1 AM; however, Cassens said that students will be allowed in other parts of the library past this time.

With midterm and final exams leaving students seeking solitude, Ryan said that steps will be taken to ensure that student privacy remains respected. He also suggested that SGA would explore other options, such as requesting that the BSC remain open 24 hours during finals and midterms.

“Construction is never pretty, we’re ready for that. Worked heavily to make sure that midterms and finals are respected and construction crew is aware,” Ryan said.

Cassens said that the Pius Library’s best efforts will be given to place students in quiet areas during midterms and finals.

“Construction will be high, ask students to be patient, these improvements are for them. We will accommodate students best we can,” Cassens said. “During midterms, we will place them in areas where noise is at a minimum.”

Even with a protracted period of construction looming, junior Eddie Desecki said he is excited for the updates.

“The construction will probably get annoying, but there are plenty of places to study on campus. It’s only one or two floors at a time,” Desecki said. “Plus, the new interior decorating is totally worth it.”

Cassens said that he is impressed with the University’s response to student needs and that the Pius Library is worthy of an upgrade.

“The university really responded to the desires of students for an improved space. Pius is open longer than any building but dorms,” Cassens said. “Pius is viewed not only as the info center for students, but the 24-hour living room for students to study and socialize.”

Ryan said that the upgrades fill the needs of the student body.

“I would say, for the current building, that this takes care of exactly what we want. The top priorities of students are being covered, Ryan said.